Purpose: To evaluate the efficacy and safety of weekly paclitaxel (Taxol®) in patients with advanced or recurrent esophageal cancer. Methods: Fifty-three patients with recurrent or advanced esophageal cancer who had previously received platinum-based chemotherapy were treated with paclitaxel 100 mg/m2 once weekly by 1-h infusion on days 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, and 36 of a 49-day cycle. Fifty-two patients were evaluable for efficacy and 53 for safety. Forty-one (77%) patients had recurrent, and 12 (23%) had advanced disease. Most patients (52/53) had squamous cell carcinoma, and one had adenocarcinoma. Results: A median of 2 cycles was delivered (range 1-8). The overall response rate was 44.2% (23/52; 95% confidence interval (CI) 30.5, 58.7%), with 4 patients (7.7%) achieving complete response. The median duration of response was 4.8 months, and median overall survival was 10.4 months. The most common Grade 3 or 4 adverse events were neutropenia (52.8%), leukopenia (45.3%), anorexia (9.4%), and fatigue (9.4%). Adverse events resulted in treatment discontinuation in 34.0% of patients and dose reductions in 43.4%. There were no treatment-related deaths. Conclusions: Weekly paclitaxel demonstrated efficacy and manageable toxicity in patients with advanced or recurrent esophageal cancer and may be a treatment option for this population.
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