• Chemotherapy;
  • DCF therapy;
  • metastatic esophageal cancer;
  • phase I/II;
  • 2-weekly docetaxel

We carried out a phase I/II trial of adding 2-weekly docetaxel to cisplatin plus fluorouracil (CF) therapy (2-weekly DCF regimen) in esophageal cancer patients to investigate its safety and antimetastatic activity. Patients received 2-weekly docetaxel (30 mg/m2 [dose level (DL)1] or 40 mg/m2 [DL2] with a 3 + 3 design in phase I, on days 1 and 15) in combination with fixed-dose CF (80 mg/m2 cisplatin, day 1; 800 mg/m2 fluorouracil, days 1–5) repeated every 4 weeks. The primary endpoint was dose-limiting toxicity (DLT) in phase I and central peer review-based response rate in phase II. At least 22 responders among 50 patients were required to satisfy the primary endpoint with a threshold of 35%. Sixty-two patients were enrolled in phase I and II. In phase I, 10 patients were enrolled with DLT of 0/3 at DL1 and 2/7 in DL2. Considering DLT and treatment compliance, the recommended phase II dose was determined as DL1. In phase II, the response rate was 62% (P < 0.0001; 95% confidence interval, 48–75%); median overall survival and progression-free survival were 11.1 and 5.8 months, respectively. Common grade 3/4 adverse events were neutropenia (25%), anemia (36%), hyponatremia (29%), anorexia (24%), and nausea (11%). No febrile neutropenia was observed. Pneumonitis caused treatment-related death in one patient. The 2-weekly DCF regimen showed promising antimetastatic activity and tolerability. A phase III study comparing this regimen with CF therapy is planned by the Japan Clinical Oncology Group. This study was registered at the UMIN Clinical Trials Registry as UMIN 000001737.