Treatment of anaplastic thyroid carcinoma with paclitaxel: Phase 2 trial using ninety-six-hour infusion

K. B. Ain, M. J. Egorin, P. A. DeSimone

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256 Scopus citations


Anaplastic thyroid carcinoma is a rare, lethal disease with no effective systemic therapies. Preclinical studies demonstrated antineoplastic activity of paclitaxel. This prompted a prospective phase 2 clinical trial to determine activity of paclitaxel against anaplastic thyroid carcinoma in patients with persistent or metastatic disease despite surgery or local radiation therapy. Twenty patients, entered through 6 of 12 study sites, were treated with 96-hour continuous infusion paclitaxel every 3 weeks for 1 to 6 cycles; the first 7 patients received 120 mg/m2 per 96 hours and the rest received 140 mg/m2 per 96 hours. Total responses to therapy were assessed using modified criteria with response durability acceptable at 2 or more weeks, due to the exceedingly rapid growth rate of this tumor. Plasma samples were obtained for pharmacokinetic analyses. Off-protocol, data showed that 9 patients were later treated with 225 mg/m2 paclitaxel as weekly 1-hour infusions. Nineteen evaluable patients demonstrated a 53% total response rate (95% confidence interval, 29%-76%) with one complete response and nine partial responses (including one off protocol). Results of historical review off-protocol showed 2 of 7 patients, with prior partial responses to the 96-hour infusion, had subsequent partial responses to weekly treatment and 1 of 2 prior nonresponders gained a partial response to weekly therapy. No toxicities greater than grade 2 were seen with 96-hour infusions, while peripheral neuropathy (up to grade 3) was most common with postprotocol weekly infusions. Paclitaxel appears to be the only agent with significant clinical systemic activity against anaplastic thyroid carcinoma; however, it is not capable of altering the lethality of this malignancy, suggesting the need for additional therapeutic innovations. Decreased time intervals between paclitaxel infusions may be more efficacious.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)587-594
Number of pages8
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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