Background: Upfront screening for dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase (DPD) deficiency in
patients scheduled for 5-FU should help to reduce the risk of toxicities by preventive adaptive dosing.
Our group has developed a simple functional testing categorizing patients upon their DPD status, i.e.
extensive metabolizer (EM) or poor metabolizer (PM) patients, using UH2/U ratio measurement in
plasma as a surrogate for DPD activity. 5-FU dosing can be next tailored according to DPD deficiency
Objectives: We present here an observational study of this strategy implemented in routine clinical
practice when treating head-and-neck cancer patients.
Results: A total of 218 evaluable adult patients were treated with a 5-FU-regimen, with DPD-based
adaptive dosing. Among them, 20 (9%) were identified as PM and received subsequently a 20-50%
reduced dosing of 5-FU as compared with EM patients (2102 ±254 mg VS. 2577 ±353mg, p<0.001 ttest).
Gender (Female) was associated with higher risk for being PM (p=0.01, Pearson's Chi squared
test). Overall, early severe toxicities were seen only in 5% of patients, all being EM with standard
dosing. Similarly, overall severe toxicities were observed in 12.8% of patients only, both figures being
markedly lower than usually reported with standard 5-FU. Despite the average -20% reduction in 5-
FU dosing between PM and EM patients, clinical efficacy was not statistically different between the
two groups (p = 0.2774, chi-square test).
Conclusion: This study shows that 5-FU-related toxicities can be greatly reduced in routine clinical
practice by the upfront detection of DPD deficient patients with simple adaptive dosing strategy.