The use of anticancer drugs in palliative settings is often limited by their severe toxic effects. In gastrointestinal carcinomas the 5-fluorouracil-based palliative regimen FOLFOX-4 is often preferred to the equally effective, but more convenient oral capecitabine-based regimen XELOX. This preference is mainly based on the fact that the highly effective oral agent capecitabine induces hand-foot syndrome (HFS). In this study, we investigated whether the continuous administration of skin prophylaxis (10% urea, panthenol, bisabolol, vitamin A, C and E) is capable of protecting against capecitabine-induced HFS and allowing a more convenient oral therapeutic option. In this retrospective analysis, the toxicity profiles, according to NCI CTCAE 3.0 criteria, of 54 patients with gastrointestinal cancer who received either XELOX (34 patients) or FOLFOX-4 (20 patients) were compared using Fisher tests. The treatment protocols that were compared, herein, did not differ significantly in the majority of the analyzed items, with the exception of increased nausea (XELOX-70), fatigue (XELOX-130) and tumor pain (XELOX-70 and XELOX-130). No significant differences were observed among the various groups with regard to emesis, diarrhea, mucositis, exanthema, alopecia, loss of weight and the incidence of infections. In particular, no significant differences in toxicity levels occurred in terms of dose, and HFS was limited if skin prophylaxis was performed continuously. XELOX-based palliative regimens provide an equally effective and comparably toxic therapeutic alternative to FOLFOX-4 if HFS prophylaxis is performed continuously. Since the oral administration of capecitabine is a more convenient method of application, it provides patients with a quality of life-preserving therapeutic alternative.
Keywords: capecitabine, 5-fluorouracil, hand-foot syndrome, gastrointestinal carcinoma