Role of body surface area in dosing of investigational anticancer agents in adults, 1991-2001

Sharyn D. Baker, Jaap Verweij, Eric K. Rowinsky, Ross C. Donehower, Jan H.M. Schellens, Louise Barnett Grochow, Alex Sparreboom

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

222 Scopus citations


The prescribed dose of anticancer agents is most commonly calculated using body surface area as the only independent variable, and it has been shown that this approach still results in large interpatient variability in drug exposure. Here, we retrospectively assessed the pharmacokinetics; of 33 investigational agents tested in phase I trials from 1991 through 2001, as a function of body surface area in 1650 adult cancer patients. Twelve of the drugs were administered orally, 19 were administered intravenously, and two were administered by both routes. Body surface area-based dosing was statistically significantly associated with a reduction in interpatient variability in drug clearance for only five of the 33 agents: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)-paclitaxel, 5-fluorouracil/eniluracil, paclitaxel, temozolomide, and troxacitabine. These results do not support the use of body surface area in dose calculations and suggest that alternate dosing strategies should be evaluated. We conclude that body surface area should not be used to determine starting doses of investigational agents in future phase I studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1883-1888
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the National Cancer Institute
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 18 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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