Gabriel A. Brooks, MPH, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Norris Cotton Cancer Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, was invited to discuss the results of the ACCENT/IDEA database analysis of early treatment discontinuation in stage III colon cancer.1 Although the results confirm the benefit of a full course of adjuvant chemotherapy, they also give reassurance that stopping oxaliplatin for reasons of toxicity may not compromise clinical outcomes, he said.
Dr. Brooks emphasized the importance of avoiding peripheral sensory neuropathy when possible. Acute neuropathy can precede cumulative neuropathy, he said, “and both of them are bothersome.” Many patients with grade 2 neuropathy can have worsening to grade 3 over time, and cumulative neuropathy can persist for months or even years in some. After 12 cycles of FOLFOX [fluorouracil, leucovorin, oxaliplatin], up to 25% of patients develop grade 3 neuropathy, and about 20% report residual symptoms at 18 months. Both grade 2 and 3 peripheral neuropathy can greatly affect quality of life.
Gabriel A. Brooks, MPH, MD
Interest in Deintensifying Oxaliplatin
For this reason, there is high interest in the deintensification of oxaliplatin therapy. The IDEA trial compared 3 vs 6 months of adjuvant fluoropyrimidine and oxaliplatin, concluding that 3 months with both agents is not noninferior to 6 months of therapy.2
“What was not small was the difference in grade 3 or 4 neuropathy, which occurred in 2.5% of patients who received 3 months of adjuvant chemotherapy with oxaliplatin but in 15.9% of patients randomly assigned to 6 months…. The IDEA trial also showed that 3 months of CAPOX [capecitabine, oxaliplatin] was noninferior to 6 months of that regimen, so we do have some evidence to support a 3-month regimen,” he said.
Key Takeaways of Pooled Analysis
The study by Gallois and colleagues analyzed the large ACCENT/IDEA databases of 11 adjuvant trials to examine the impact of early discontinuation of adjuvant therapy. It included patients who were assigned to 6 months of treatment and compared outcomes of fully treated patients with those who discontinued therapy before a maximum of 75% of the planned treatment.
“The key takeaways were that early treatment discontinuation is prognostic for worse disease-free and overall survival. Early treatment discontinuation was associated with frailty, older age, worse performance status, and side effects that are consistent with treatment. We do not know, as Dr. Gallois pointed out, whether early treatment discontinuation is causally associated with the worst outcomes, or mostly a prognostic association, or some mix of the two, which is likely,” he commented.
Early oxaliplatin discontinuation, on the other hand, was not prognostic for 3-year disease-free or 5-year overall survival, he noted. As seen with early discontinuation of chemotherapy regimens, early discontinuation of oxaliplatin alone was associated with oxaliplatin side effects (ie, “not surprisingly” neuropathy).
“The inference here is that discontinuation of oxaliplatin after 3 months of adjuvant therapy did not negatively impact disease-free or overall survival. This is a nice piece of information that should give us confidence that many patients do not benefit from the additional 3 months of oxaliplatin-containing therapy, even if there may be some who benefit from 3 additional months of adjuvant chemotherapy with the fluoropyrimidine component,” Dr. Brooks said.
“The study supports the finding from the IDEA trial: for many patients, 3 months of oxaliplatin-containing chemotherapy is sufficient,” Dr. Brooks concluded. “Is it time to deintensify oxaliplatin to improve patient outcomes? My answer is a resounding ‘yes.’”
“The benefits of oxaliplatin are less than are often assumed in multiple settings, but the harms are well described,” he said. “We are probably overly aggressive in our use of oxaliplatin. I think we should use oxaliplatin cautiously and sparingly beyond the third month of adjuvant therapy for colon cancer.”
DISCLOSURE: Dr. Brooks has served as a consultant to CareCentrix, Ipsen, and UnitedHealthCare.
1. Gallois C, Shi Q, Meyers JP, et al: Prognostic impact of early treatment discontinuation and early oxaliplatin discontinuation in patients treated with 6 months of oxaliplatin-based adjuvant chemotherapy for stage III colon cancer: An ACCENT/IDEA pooled analysis of 11 trials. 2022 ASCO Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium. Abstract 11. Presented January 22, 2022.
2. Grothey A, Sobrero AF, Shields AF, et al: Duration of adjuvant chemotherapy for stage III colon cancer. N Engl J Med 378:1177-1188, 2018.
For patients with stage III colon cancer, early discontinuation of adjuvant chemotherapy leads to worse outcomes—but early discontinuation of oxaliplatin did not. These findings, which came from an analysis of the large ACCENT and IDEA clinical trials databases, were presented at the 2022 ASCO...