High-dose BCNU with autologous bone marrow rescue for recurrent glioblastoma multiforme

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  • 1 Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Division of Medicine, Sidney Farber Cancer Institute, and Departments of Neurology, Surgery (Neurosurgery), and Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
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✓ Eleven patients with recurrent malignant glioma were treated with single high doses of BCNU ranging from 600 to 1400 mg/sq m. To prevent the characteristic late myelosuppression observed after conventional doses of BCNU, autologous bone marrow harvested just before drug treatment was infused 24 to 36 hours after therapy. Higher doses of BCNU causes earlier and more profound myelosuppression; one patient died of pancytopenia, breakdown of the gut epithelium, and Clostridium septicemia 10 days after receiving 1400 mg/sq m of BCNU. All patients experienced transient emesis; four developed transient elevation of hepatic enzymes, two reversible interstitial pulmonary infiltrates, and two who received 1400 mg/sq m BCNU suffered irreversible cortical damage. Eight patients receiving 600 to 1200 mg/sq m demonstrated reconstitution of polymorphonuclear leukocytes and platelets within at least 30 days after treatment. With a follow-up time of up to 19 months, four patients improved, three stabilized, and three deteriorated and died. The median survival time was 7 months. Computerized tomography performed on patients receiving constant corticosteroids showed diminished contrast enhancement and mass effect in eight patients. High-dose BCNU at doses up to 1200 mg/sq m with marrow rescue is a feasible approach to the treatment of patients with glioblastoma.

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Contributor Notes

Address reprint requests to: Fred H. Hochberg, M.D., Neurology Service, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02114.
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