Added Taxane Has No Survival Benefit in Breast Cancer

-- A. Agrawal, PhD

Friday, May 15, 2009

FRIDAY, May 15 (HealthDay News) -- The sequential addition of a taxane to adjuvant anthracycline-based chemotherapy does not improve survival compared with standard chemotherapy in women with invasive operable breast cancer, according to a study in the May 16 issue of The Lancet.

Paul Ellis, M.D., from Guy's and St. Thomas' NHS Trust in London, and colleagues studied 4,162 women with operable invasive early breast cancer. About half were randomly assigned to four cycles of adjuvant anthracycline-based chemotherapy (fluorouracil, epirubicin, cyclophosphamide) followed by the taxane docetaxel for four cycles. The other half received standard adjuvant chemotherapy, either the same anthracycline-based chemotherapy for eight cycles, or epirubicin for four cycles followed by cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, and fluorouracil for four cycles.

After a median follow-up of 62 months, the researchers found that the number of disease-free survival events was similar in the docetaxel and standard chemotherapy groups (hazard ratio, 0.95). Similar percentages of women in both groups were alive and free of disease after five years (75.6 and 74.3 percent, respectively). However, the docetaxel group reported significantly more high-grade adverse events, with neutropenia, leucopenia, and lethargy being most common.

"This study did not show any overall gain from the addition of docetaxel to standard anthracycline chemotherapy," Ellis and colleagues conclude. "Additionally, the anthracycline-docetaxel sequential schedule was associated with a higher frequency of adverse events and transiently poorer quality of life than the non-taxane control regimen."

The study was funded by Cancer Research UK, Sanofi-Aventis, Pfizer, and Roche; several study authors reported financial ties to those companies.

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Specialties Cardiology
Diabetes & Endocrinology
Internal Medicine
Family Practice

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