A total of 20 patients with histologically proven primary hepatocellular carcinoma (PHC) received mitoxantrone IV at a dose of 10-16 mg/m2 every 3 weeks. All patients had previous hepatitis B infection. None underwent remission after treatment; 2 had stable disease and 18 progressive disease. The median overall survival was 13 weeks (range, 1-59 weeks). There was no evidence of significant antitumor activity for mitoxantrone in our patients with PHC. Hematotoxicity occurred in 100% of the patients with grades 2-4 leukopenia, 89% of those with grades 1-4 anemia, and 26% of those with grades 2-3 thrombocytopenia. Cardiotoxicity occurred in 20% of the patients after 14-30 mg/m2 mitoxantrone; these included complete heart block with fatal outcome in one case, decreased ventricular ejection fraction in one, and sinus tachycardia in two. Nausea, vomiting, fever, diarrhea, and alopecia were mild and occurred in 15%-45% of the patients (Table 3). Therefore, patients with PHC following hepatitis B infection may be less tolerant to mitoxantrone, resulting in the apparent increase in toxicities.
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