Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

PURPOSE: To compare raltitrexed (Tomudex; Zeneca Pharmaceuticals Ltd, Macclesfield, United Kingdom) a direct, specific thymidylate synthase (TS) inhibitor with fluorouracil (5-FU) plus high-dose leucovorin (LV) as first-line treatment for advanced colorectal cancer (ACC). PATIENTS AND METHODS: A total of 495 patients were randomized to raltitrexed (3 mg/m2) once every 3 weeks or 5-FU (400 mg/m2) plus LV (200 mg/m2) daily for 5 days every 4 weeks. RESULTS: The randomized groups were well balanced demographically. With a minimum 17-month follow-up, median survival was comparable between groups (10.9 months raltitrexed v 12.3 months 5-FU/LV; hazards ratio, 1.15; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.93 to 1.42; P=.197), although time to progression was statistically significantly shorter in the raltitrexed group. Overall objective responses were comparable (19% raltitrexed v 18% 5-FU/LV), with more than 50% of patients in each group having stable disease. Significantly less World Health Organization (WHO) grade 3 and 4 stomatitis (2% v 16%, P < .001) and a reduced incidence of leukopenia (6% v 13%) and diarrhea (10% v 19%) occurred in the raltitrexed group (particularly at cycle 1 ). This resulted in fewer dose reductions at cycle 2 (4% raltitrexed v 28% 5-FU/LV) and early quality-of-life (QoL) benefits for raltitrexed patients. Reversible, clinically insignificant increases in transaminases were reported in 13% of raltitrexed patients. Palliative benefits of weight gain, improved performance status, and reduced disease-related symptoms were evident in both groups. CONCLUSION: Raltitrexed is confirmed as an effective option in the first-line palliative management of ACC, with comparable efficacy to and tolerability advantages (in terms of reduced incidence of stomatitis, diarrhea, and leukopenia) over 5-FU/LV. Raltitrexed has the added convenience of an every 3 weeks dosing schedule.

Original publication




Journal article


J Clin Oncol

Publication Date





2943 - 2952


Adenocarcinoma, Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic, Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols, Colorectal Neoplasms, Disease Progression, Dose-Response Relationship, Drug, Female, Fluorouracil, Humans, Leucovorin, Male, Middle Aged, Quality of Life, Quinazolines, Survival Analysis, Thiophenes