The safety of interstitial chemotherapy with BCNU-loaded polymer followed by radiation therapy in the treatment of newly diagnosed malignant gliomas: Phase I trial

Henry Brem, Matthew G. Ewend, Steven Piantadosi, Jerry Greenhoot, Peter C. Burger, Michael Sisti

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The results of a multi-institutional phase I trial evaluating the safety of surgically implanted biodegradable 1,3-bis(chloro-ethyl)-1-nitrosourea (BCNU) impregnated polymer as the initial therapy for malignant brain tumors are reported. This is the first study of locally delivered BCNU and standard external beam radiation therapy (XRT) given concurrently. Twenty-two patients were treated at three hospitals. The entry criteria were: single unilateral tumor focus larger than 1 cm3; age over 18 years; Karnofsky Performance Score (KPS) of at least 60 h; and an intra-operative diagnosis of malignant glioma. Twenty-one of twenty-two patients had glioblastoma multiforme. After surgery, seven or eight BCNU-loaded polyanhydride polymer discs (7.7 mg BCNU each) were placed in the resection cavity. Postoperatively, all patients received standard radiation therapy; none received additional chemotherapy in the first 6 months. Neurotoxicity, systemic toxicity, and survival were assessed. No perioperative mortality was seen. Neurotoxicity was equivalent to that occurring in other series of patients undergoing craniotomy and XRT without local chemotherapy. Systematically, no significant bone marrow suppression occurred, and there were no wound infections. Median survival in this group of older patients (mean age=60) was 42 weeks, 8 patients survived 1 year, and 4 patients survived more than 18 months. Interstitial chemotherapy with BCNU-polymer with subsequent radiation therapy appears to be safe as an initial therapy. Several long-term survivors in this group of older patients with predominantly glioblastoma suggests efficacy in some patients. Dose escalation and efficacy trials are planned to further evaluate interstitial chemotherapy for the initial treatment of malignant gliomas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-123
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of neuro-oncology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 1 1995



  • BCNU
  • glioblastoma
  • interstitial chemotherapy
  • local delivery
  • polymer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cancer Research

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