Author(s): Cunningham D, Starling N, Rao S, Iveson T, Nicolson M
BACKGROUND: We evaluated capecitabine (an oral fluoropyrimidine) and oxaliplatin (a platinum compound) as alternatives to infused fluorouracil and cisplatin, respectively, for untreated advanced esophagogastric cancer. METHODS: In a two-by-two design, we randomly assigned 1002 patients to receive triplet therapy with epirubicin and cisplatin plus either fluorouracil (ECF) or capecitabine (ECX) or triplet therapy with epirubicin and oxaliplatin plus either fluorouracil (EOF) or capecitabine (EOX). The primary end point was noninferiority in overall survival for the triplet therapies containing capecitabine as compared with fluorouracil and for those containing oxaliplatin as compared with cisplatin. RESULTS: For the capecitabine-fluorouracil comparison, the hazard ratio for death in the capecitabine group was 0.86 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.80 to 0.99); for the oxaliplatin-cisplatin comparison, the hazard ratio for the oxaliplatin group was 0.92 (95% CI, 0.80 to 1.10). The upper limit of the confidence intervals for both hazard ratios excluded the predefined noninferiority margin of 1.23. Median survival times in the ECF, ECX, EOF, and EOX groups were 9.9 months, 9.9 months, 9.3 months, and 11.2 months, respectively; survival rates at 1 year were 37.7%, 40.8%, 40.4%, and 46.8%, respectively. In the secondary analysis, overall survival was longer with EOX than with ECF, with a hazard ratio for death of 0.80 in the EOX group (95% CI, 0.66 to 0.97; P=0.02). Progression-free survival and response rates did not differ significantly among the regimens. Toxic effects of capecitabine and fluorouracil were similar. As compared with cisplatin, oxaliplatin was associated with lower incidences of grade 3 or 4 neutropenia, alopecia, renal toxicity, and thromboembolism but with slightly higher incidences of grade 3 or 4 diarrhea and neuropathy. CONCLUSIONS: Capecitabine and oxaliplatin are as effective as fluorouracil and cisplatin, respectively, in patients with previously untreated esophagogastric cancer. (Current Controlled Trials number, ISRCTN51678883 [controlled-trials.com].).