Irinotecan (IRI) and oxaliplatin (Ox) are standard therapeutic agents of the first-line treatments for metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC). Previous meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) showed that treatment with Ox-based compared with IRI-based regimens was associated with better overall survival (OS). However, these reports did not include trials of molecular targeting agents and did not take methods for the administration of concomitant drugs, such as bolus or continuous infusion of 5-fluorouracil, into account. A systematic literature review was performed to compare the efficacy and toxicity profiles between IRI- and Ox-based regimens as the first-line treatments for mCRC.
This meta-analysis used data from the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, PubMed, and SCOPUS. The primary endpoint was OS, and the secondary endpoints were progression-free survival (PFS), objective response rate (ORR), and adverse events (AEs).
Nineteen trials involving 4,571 patients were included in the analysis. No statistically significant difference was observed between the two groups in terms of OS, PFS, and ORR. There was no significant heterogeneity. Regarding ≥ grade 3 AEs, IRI-based regimens were associated with a high incidence of leukopenia, febrile neutropenia, and diarrhea. Moreover, there was a high incidence of thrombocytopenia and peripheral sensory neuropathy in patients who received Ox-based regimens. In a subgroup analysis, IRI combined with bevacizumab was correlated with a better PFS (HR = 0.90, 95% CI = 0.82–0.98, P = 0.02), but not with OS.
Although the safety profiles of IRI- and Ox-based regimens varied, their efficacy did not significantly differ. Therefore, both regimens could be used as the first-line treatments for mCRC with consideration of the patients’ condition or toxicity profiles.