South African Study Finds Survival Benefit to High-Dose Chemotherapy in Primary Breast Cancer

University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center
Last Modified: May 17, 1999

The data from this study have since been called into question. For more information concerning this, please consult: OncoLink NCI/PDQ: Misconduct Suspected in South African Breast Cancer Study.

A South African study of 154 women with high-risk breast cancer involving 10 or more lymph nodes shows increased survival rates and lower relapse rates among women who received high-dose chemotherapy and stem cell support, compared to women receiving standard dose chemotherapy. The study was led by Dr. Werner Bezwoda of the University of Witwatersrand Medical School in Johannesburg.

The high-dose arm received cyclophosphamide, mitoxantrone, and VP16 (HD-CNVp) and the standard-dose arm received cyclophosphamide, adriamycin or epiadriamycin, and 5-fluorouracil (CAF).

After more than five years of follow-up, women in the high-dose arm had experienced fewer cancer relapss and lower mortality compared to women in the standard dose arm. 25% (19/75) patients on the high-dose regimen had relapsed, compared with 66% (52/79) on the standard dose arm. Mortality was 17% (8/75) in the high-dose arm, compared with 35% (28/79) in the standard dose arm.