Expert opinion on drug metabolism & toxicology

Isolated limb infusion with melphalan and actinomycin D in melanoma patients: factors predictive of acute regional toxicity.

PMID 20604735


Isolated limb infusion (ILI) is a simple, minimally invasive technique of delivering high concentrations of cytotoxic drugs to a diseased limb for achieving disease control in that limb. Recent studies have suggested that mild hyperthermic (38 degrees C) ILI might be the best initial treatment for extensively recurrent limb melanoma given its simplicity, low morbidity and a complete response rate of 30 - 40%. Since 1994 when ILI was first described by Thompson et al., the procedure has been adopted by several centres around the world; research and improvements in the technique have resulted in reduction in limb toxicity without reducing its clinical efficacy. The pharmacokinetics of melphalan and the clinical efficacy and adverse effects of ILI from various centres are summarised. Minor but possibly important differences in the ILI techniques used in different institutions may be important in improving its efficacy and reducing the toxic effects. An understanding of the efficacy and toxicity associated with ILI with cytotoxic drugs in melanoma patients and of methods to optimise regional therapy for malignant disease in a limb. ILI with mild hyperthermia (38 degrees C) is well tolerated with tumour remission rates in melanoma patients similar to those achieved by isolated limb perfusion. Mild (grade I - II) and moderate/severe (grade > or = III) limb toxicities occur in 58 - 68% and 32 - 41% of patients, respectively, but long-term morbidity is rare. A high peak and high final melphalan concentration in the infusate, the AUC of melphalan concentration in the infusate and an increased postoperative serum creatine phosphokinase concentration are factors predictive of acute regional toxicity. Drug dose adjusted for ideal body weight and gender may reduce acute toxicity following ILI. It has been suggested that the use of papaverine prior to the infusion of melphalan might increase its efficacy, but it may also increase toxicity. Large prospective studies are needed to more accurately define the perioperative factors that influence acute regional toxicity after ILI and to establish strategies to optimise clinical outcome.