COMB (cyclophosphamide, oncovin, methyl‐ccnu, and bleomycin): A four‐drug combination in solid tumors

Robert B. Livingston, Lawrence H. Einhorn, Gerald P. Bodey, Michael A. Burgess, E. J. Freireich, Jeffrey A. Gottlieb

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40 Scopus citations


One hundred eighty‐nine patients received a four‐drug combination consisting of cyclophosphamide, Oncovin (vincristine), methyl CCNU, and bleomycin (COMB), according to three different drug regimens, performed sequentially. Of the 189, 62 had a partial response (33%) including 11/33 with squamous lung cancer, 11/32 with squamous carcinoma of the head and neck, 13/15 with oat cell carcinoma of the lung, and 7/41 with malignant melanoma. The response rate for patients with squamous lung or head and neck cancer appeared to be higher at weekly bleomycin doses of 30 and 60 mg (15/33 = 45%), compared to a weekly bleomycin dose of 15 mg (7/32 = 25%). A median survival from treatment of 30 weeks was observed in oat cell carcinoma, which represents considerable prolongation over that expected from supportive care alone or single‐agent chemotherapy. Toxicity included: 1) myelosuppression, resulting in hospitalization for antibiotics in 20% of patients; 2) probable bleomycin lung damage in 4% of patients; and 3) dose‐limiting vincristine neuropathy in 11%. The combination of twice‐weekly vincristine and bleomycin for more than 6 weeks produced a disturbing “debilitation syndrome,” characterized by weakness, anorexia, weight loss, and apathy. The encouraging response rate suggests a future role for these drugs in combination, especially for vincristine and bleomycin, with other agents showing activity in squamous and oat cell carcinoma. Toxicity precludes recommendation of this combination, in the regimens tested, for broader Phase III studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)327-332
Number of pages6
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1975

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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