Indexed on: 19 Oct '17Published on: 19 Oct '17Published in: Annals of oncology : official journal of the European Society for Medical Oncology / ESMO
The fluoropyrimidine anticancer drugs, especially 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) and capecitabine, are frequently prescribed for several types of cancer, including breast, colorectal, head and neck and gastric cancer. In the current drug labels of 5-FU and capecitabine in the European Union and the United States of America no adaptive dosing strategies are incorporated for polymorphic metabolism of 5-FU.Although treatment with fluoropyrimidines is generally well tolerated, a major clinical limitation is that a proportion of the treated population experiences severe, sometimes life-threatening, fluoropyrimidine-related toxicity. This toxicity is strongly affected by interindividual variability in activity of dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase (DPD), the main metabolic enzyme for inactivation of fluoropyrimidines, with an estimated 3-8% of the population being partially DPD deficient. A reduced functional or abrogated DPD enzyme is often caused by genetic polymorphisms in DPYD, the gene encoding for DPD, and heterozygous carriers of such DPYD polymorphisms have a partial DPD deficiency. When these partially DPD deficient patients are treated with a full dose of fluoropyrimidines, they are generally exposed to toxic levels of 5-FU and its metabolites, and the risk of developing severe treatment-related toxicity is therefore significantly increased.Currently, functional and clinical validity is well established for four DPYD variants (DPYD*2A, c.2846A>T, c.1679T>G and c.1236G>A), as those variants have retrospectively and in a large population study prospectively been shown to be associated with increased risk of fluoropyrimidine-associated toxicity. Patient safety of fluoropyrimidine treatment can be significantly improved by pre-emptive screening for DPYD genotype variants and dose reductions in heterozygous DPYD variant allele carriers, thereby normalizing 5-FU exposure. Based on the critical appraisal of currently available data, adjusting the labels of capecitabine and 5-FU by including recommendations on pre-emptive screening for DPYD variants and DPYD genotype-guided dose adjustments should be the new standard of care.