A EOX chemotherapy regimen is often used in the treatment of stomach cancer. It is a combination of Epirubicin, Oxaliplatin and Capecitabine.
Its main use is in advanced malignancy or as pre-operative therapy to shrink your tumor and make it more amenable to surgery.
On current evidence, the effectiveness is probably better than the alternative FOLFOX (a 2 chemo agent regimen), but is less well tolerated.
It is also of benefit as a neoadjuvant treatment in those with operable cancers.
EOX is an abbreviation for:
Epirubicin (trade name Ellence - a red liquid) = E
Oxplatin (trade name Eloxatin - a colourless liquid) = O
Capecitabine tablets (trade name Xeloda) = X
Epirubicin and Oxplatin are given intravenously either through your central line (HICKMAN line) and normally takes about 2-3 hours to give.
The Capecitabine is a tablet and is taken twice a day with water and food. It is known as a prodrug as the body converts it in the active form, known as 5-Flurouracil.
The tablets are normally taken for 14 days and the therapy normally lasts 3 weeks or 21 days before you have a further cycle of treatment.
In total, you can have up to 8 cycles or 24 weeks of this form of chemo. The length is really dictated by the response of your tumor to it.
Like any form of chemotherapy it does have side effects. These include:
Phlebitis – inflamed vein when having intravenous treatment
Allergic Reaction To Drugs – Unusual
Hot Flushes – Common
Nausea and Vomiting
Risk of Pancytopenia – this is when the blood cells are low and normally occurs about a week after chemotherapy. This increases risk of:
Mucositis - a medical term for a sore mouth and can cause swallowing problems. This is often worse with cold drinks
Diarrhea and Constipation – either can occur with EOX chemotherapy
Altered Taste – you may go off certain drinks and foods that you once enjoyed.
Hair loss – can cause complete hair loss
Sore Eyes and Conjunctivitis
Peripheral Neuropathy – Painful or numb hands and feet
Skin Problems – Rashes and scaly hands and feet
Red Urine – due to the Epirubicin and normally occurs in the first 24-48 hours of treatment
Heart Problems – rarely, Epirubicin can cause myocarditis and heart failure. If you start feeling breathless, seek immediate medical advice
There have been land mark trials showing the benefits of this treatment. Studies such as MAGIC and the FNCLCC/FFCD trials have proven efficacy of perioperative chemotherapy rather than surgery alone with approximately a 10% increased survival rate.
EOX chemotherapy is very effective. Studies have shown that between 10 and 39% will have a good response (1, 2) and 11.5% will get complete regression with this form of treatment prior to surgery.
The mean 1 year survival rate with this form of therapy is 46.8% (3).
1) FOLFOX Versus EOX Chemotherapy As A Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy Regimen For Patients With Advanced Gastric Cancer
Chen, W et al. Exp Ther Med. 2014 Feb; 7(2): 461-467.
2) Comparison Between DCF (Docetaxel, Cisplatin And 5-Flurouracil) And Modified EOX (Epirubicin, Oxaliplatin And Capecitabine) As Palliative First-Line Chemotherapy For Adenocarcinoma Of The Upper Gastrointestinal Tract
Iihan-Mutlu, A et al. Anticancer Res. 2013 Aug;33(8):3455-9.
3) Capecitabine And Oxaliplatin For Advanced Esophagogastric Cancer
Cunningham, D et al. N Engl J Med 2008;358:36-46.