Care for patients with advanced sarcomas is mainly palliative. Gemcitabine, a nucleoside antimetabolite, is an analog of deoxycytidine that has shown antitumor activity in several tumors. The aim of the current study was to determine the clinical activity of gemcitabine in patients with sarcomas.
The authors evaluated gemcitabine in patients with histologically confirmed sarcomas; one prior exposure to chemotherapy treatment was allowed. Prior radiation was allowed if given to non-indicator lesions. Treatment consisted of gemcitabine 1250 mg/m2 intravenously over 30 minutes, every week × three, cycles repeated q28 days.
Twenty nine of 30 patients were evaluable; one patient refused to initiate study treatment. The mean age was 50 years (range, 22-81 years); 59% were male, and 35% had an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status of 0 (vs. 1 or 2). Patients were histologically classified as leiomyosarcoma (seven gastrointestinal, four retroperitoneal, two inferior vena caval, three of the extremity, and two uterine), synovial (two patients), malignant fibrous histiocytoma (two patients), fibrosarcoma (one patient), osteosarcoma (two patients), liposarcoma (one patient), hemangiosarcoma (one patient), or giant cell (one patient). Patients received an average of two cycles (range, one to eight). Eighty three percent of patients discontinued treatment due to progression and 14% due to toxicity/refusal. Hematologic toxicities ≥ Grade 3 were seen in 32% of patients and consisted of leukopenia and thrombocytopenia. Anorexia (Grade 1/2 in 6 patients, Grade 3 in 1 patient), nausea (Grade 1/2 in 7 patients, Grade 3 in 1 patient), and lethargy (Grade 1/2 in 19 patients) were the most frequently observed nonhematologic toxicities. One patient experienced Grade 3 edema and muscle infarction. A different patient experienced unexplained Grade 3 chest pain. One partial response was observed in a uterine leiomyosarcoma patient lasting at least three months. Overall response rate was 3% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0-15). Median time -to progression was 2.1 months (95% CI: 1.8–3.0).
The current gemcitabine regimen demonstrated acceptable levels of toxicity, but it failed to produce the number of responses needed to justify expansion of the current study. This regimen is not recommended for advanced sarcomas. Cancer 2002;94:3225–9. © 2002 American Cancer Society.