Because irinotecan penetrates the brain-blood barrier and has an effect in primary brain cancer, there is some interest in using it for brain metastasis, especially for lung cancer and breast cancer. Most studies of irinotecan had been for brain mets of small(SCLC) and non-small cell lung cancer(NSMCLC) and not breast cancer and have had mixed results. One study reported complete responses with irinotecan-based chemotherapy for brain metastases in three patients with SCLC, parotid cancer, and esophageal adenocarcinoma. The combination of cisplatin, ifosfamide and irinotecan in treatment-naive patients with NSCLC led to an intracranial response rate of 50%. A study of temozolomide (200 mg/m2) on days 1 to 5 and irinotecan (200 mg/m2) on days 1 to 5 every 4 weeks in previously untreated patients with NSCLC brain metastases reported no responses.
There are several ongoing studies for lung cancer. For breast cancer, there is also a study: Irinotecan and Temozolomide in Treating Patients With Breast Cancer Who Have Received Previous Treatment for Brain Metastases, NCT00617539.
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Chou R, Chen A, Lau D: Complete response of brain metastases to irinotecan-based chemotherapy. J Clin Neurosci 12:242-245, 2005. Fujita A, Fukuoka S, Takabatake H, et al: Combination chemotherapy of cisplatin, ifosfamide, and irinotecan with rhG-CSF support in patients with brain metastases from non-small cell lung cancer. Oncology 59:291-295, 2000.For Lay version see here