Brain tumours comprise only 2% of all adult cancers, but they are among the most debilitating malignant diseases. Temozolomide, an alkylating agent that can be administered orally, has been approved for the treatment of recurrent malignant glioma on a daily schedule for 5-day cycles. Continuous administration schedules with a higher dose intensity are being explored, but an improvement in efficiency remains to be shown. The benefit from temozolomide given as a single agent in recurrent disease will be several weeks at best. This drug is therefore now undergoing clinical testing as neoadjuvant chemotherapy or with concomitant radiotherapy in patients with newly diagnosed glioma. Several phase I trials are investigating the combination of temozolomide with other agents active against brain tumours. This review briefly summarises the pharmacological background and clinical development of temozolomide and focuses on current and future clinical exploration of this drug for the treatment of brain tumours.
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