Pharmacokinetic monitoring and dose modification of Etanidazole in the RTOG 85-27 Phase III head and neck trial

Nancy E. Riese, Lori Buswell, Lisa Noll, Thomas F. Pajak, Jo Ann Stetz, D. J. Lee, C. Norman Coleman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Purpose: To prospectively evaluate the pharmacokinetic monitoring and drug dose adjustment of Etanidazole (Eta) in patients treated on the RTOG randomized trial for Stage III and IV head and neck cancer. Methods and Materials: From June, 1986 to October, 1991, 521 patients were randomized to conventional RT alone or RT plus Eta. The primary goal was to determine whether the addition of Eta to conventional radiation therapy improves local- regional control and tumor-free survival. Of the 264 patients who received Eta, 233 had their drug exposure calculated and the Eta dose and schedule adjusted accordingly to prevent the occurrence of serious peripheral neuropathy. Drug exposure was assessed using the area under the curve (AUC) for a single treatment that was calculated by the integral over time of the serum concentration of Eta. The total drug exposure (total-AUC) was estimated by multiplying the AUC by the number of drug administrations. Results: Eighteen percent of patients developed Grade I and 6% developed Grade II peripheral neuropathy. There was no Grade 3 or 4 peripheral neuropathy. There is a trend for an increased risk of neuropathy by single dose AUC. The minimal difference in incidence of neuropathy by single-dose AUC was due to the use of dose and schedule modification for patients with the higher values. Conclusions: The pharmacokinetics investigated in this study confirm previous work that monitoring Eta levels, with dose adjustment, allows it to be used safely in the clinic. In a subset analysis there was a statistically significant improvement in local-regional control and survival rates for patients with N0 and N1 disease, that will require confirmation (14). However, the clinical efficacy of Eta in this trial proved to be of little overall benefit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)855-858
Number of pages4
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • 2-Nitroimidazoles
  • Etanidazole
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Pharmacokinetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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