University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center
Last Modified: May 18, 1998
Adjuvant chemotherapy chemotherapy administered to prevent the recurrence of cancer after surgery has been an important contributor to improved survival rates for many breast cancer patients. This study compared the newer chemotherapy regimen CAF (cyclophosphamide, adriamycin, and 5-fluorouracil) to the standard CMF (cyclophosphamide, methotrexate and 5-fluorouracil).
The results of this large, phase III intergroup trial involving nearly 4,000 patients demonstrated that there was a statistically significant higher survival rate in women with localized breast cancer at high risk of recurrence that received the CAF regimen. In addition, the study demonstrated the benefit of adding tamoxifen to chemotherapy in patients whose breast cancers expressed estrogen hormone receptors, which are present in the majority of postmenopausal woman with breast cancer. Most importantly, the researchers were able to identify a group of patients with breast cancer which measured between 1 and 2 centimeters in diameter who did very well after surgery, without the addition of either chemotherapy regimen.