Disease-free survival advantage of weekly epirubicin plus tamoxifen versus tamoxifen alone as adjuvant treatment of operable, node-positive, elderly breast cancer patients: 6-year follow-up results of the French adjuvant study group 08 trial

Pierre Fargeot, Jacques Bonneterre, Henri Roché, Alain Lortholary, Mario Campone, Isabelle Van Praagh, Alain Monnier, Moïse Namer, Simon Schraub, Jean-Claude Barats, Jean-Paul Guastalla, Marie-Josèphe Goudier, Isabelle Chapelle-Marcillac
Journal of Clinical Oncology 2004 December 1, 22 (23): 4622-30

PURPOSE: To assess whether an epirubicin (EPI) -based chemotherapy plus hormonal regimen improves disease-free (DFS) in women older than 65 years, with node-positive, operable breast cancer (BC), relative to tamoxifen (TAM) alone.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: A total of 338 patients were randomly assigned after surgery to receive TAM 30 mg/d for 3 years (TAM, n = 164), or EPI 30 mg on days 1, 8, and 15 every 28 days for six cycles plus TAM 30 mg/d for 3 years (EPI-TAM, n = 174). In both arms, patients received radiotherapy, delivered after chemotherapy (CT) in the EPI-TAM group.

RESULTS: The 6-year DFS rates were 69.3% with TAM and 72.6% with EPI-TAM (P = .14). The multivariate analysis shows a relative risk of relapse of 1.93 (95% CI, 1.70 to 2.17) with TAM compared with EPI-TAM (P = .005). The 6-year OS, related to disease progression, was 79.1% and 79.8%, respectively (P = .41). Compliance with CT was good: 96.9% of patients received six cycles. The acute toxicity per patient was mild: grade 2 neutropenia in 5.9%, grade 2 anemia in 2.0%, grade 3 nausea or vomiting in 4.6%, and grade 3 alopecia in 7.2%. Five cases (in five patients) of decreased left ventricular ejection fraction occurred after CT: three after adjuvant CT, and two after anthracycline-based CT for relapse. One patient died as a result of dysrhythmia related to carcinomatous lymphangitis. No secondary leukemia occurred.

CONCLUSION: This study conducted in node-positive elderly patients demonstrates a significant contribution of a weekly EPI regimen in terms of DFS. Moreover, this regimen is safe for hematologic, nonhematologic, and cardiac toxicities.

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