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Twenty-six patients with relapsed or drug-resistant cancer were treated with a combination of oral etoposide (300 mg day-1 for 3 days) and high-dose oral tamoxifen as a potential modulator of drug resistance (480 or 720 mg day-1 for 6 days beginning 3 days before etoposide). One patient with relapsed high-grade lymphoma and one with adenocarcinoma of unknown primary site has a partial response. Toxicity consisting of nausea, vomiting and subjective dizziness, unsteadiness of gait and malaise occurred during tamoxifen treatment. Serum levels of tamoxifen averaged 3-3.5 microM on day 4 of all courses of treatment at both 480 and 720 mg day-1. N-desmethyltamoxifen levels were lower than tamoxifen during the first course (2 microM) but increased to equal tamoxifen levels during the second course. Didesmethyltamoxifen levels remained below 1 microM. In vitro, both tamoxifen and the standard modulator of multidrug resistance, verapamil, produced minor enhancement of etoposide cytotoxicity in the MCF-7 wt cell line but produced no enhancement with any other cell line. High, intermittent doses of tamoxifen can be given with acceptable toxicity and produce serum levels that have been shown to modulate drug resistance in vitro. In vitro, however, such levels have no significant effect on etoposide cytotoxicity towards a range of wild-type and MDR cell lines.


Journal article


Br J Cancer

Publication Date





833 - 839


ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1, Administration, Oral, Adult, Aged, Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols, Dose-Response Relationship, Drug, Drug Resistance, Drug Screening Assays, Antitumor, Drug Synergism, Etoposide, Female, Humans, Male, Membrane Glycoproteins, Middle Aged, Neoplasms, Tamoxifen, Tumor Cells, Cultured, Verapamil