For patients with early stage breast cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes, adding four cycles of docetaxel (Taxotere) into a sequential regimen of epirubicin followed by cyclophosphamide, methotrexate and fluorouracil (CMF) reduces the risk of recurrence and death, updated long-term results show.
This advantage comes at the cost of an increased, but manageable, toxicity, Italian researchers report at the 33rd Congress of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) in Stockholm.
Dr. Francesco Cognetti from Istituto Oncologico Regina Elena and colleagues treated 998 patients with node-positive early stage breast cancer with one of two regimens: 486 received four months of treatment with epirubicin, followed by four cycles of treatment with CMF. The remainder received an additional docetaxel treatment between the two chemotherapy stages.
At the congress, Dr. Cognetti reports results from a median follow-up of 62 months, showing a disease-free survival rate of 74% in the docetaxel arm, compared to 68% among women treated with the other regimen.
"At a median follow-up of five years, the overall survival of patients receiving the addition of docetaxel to the standard regimen of epirubicin followed by CMF significantly improved compared to patients randomized in the control arm," he said. "Moreover, the time of disease recurrence results significantly longer in patients enrolled in the experimental arm."
"The trial demonstrates that the introduction of four cycles of docetaxel into a sequential epirubicin-CMF regimen reduces the risk of recurrence and death in node-positive breast cancer patients."