Continuous infusion of chemotherapy: focus on 5-fluorouracil and fluorodeoxyuridine.

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Continuous infusion of chemotherapy is one of the developments to try to improve the treatment of metastic cancer. There is a sound theoretical rationale to deliver cytotoxic drugs as a continuous infusion. Furthermore, the development of reliable venous access devices and portable infusion pumps enables patients to be treated in an ambulatory setting. This review focuses on the continuous infusion of the most frequently used drugs: 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) and fluorodeoxyuridine (FUDR). An overview is given of both preclinical studies and studies in humans. Continuous infusion of 5-FU and FUDR has proven to be feasible in all studies. However, the results (response rate and especially survival) are rather disappointing. So far, continuous infusion of cytostatic drugs can stil be considered as an experimental procedure. Whether protracted, intermittent or circadian modulated continuous infusion is the optimal treatment schedule has still to be proven in future studies. Furthermore, studies are needed to demonstrate whether dose intensity for most tumours is important for treatment outcome. Also, studies are needed to investigate quality of life and economic issues.

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