Multicycle dose-intensive chemotherapy for women with high-risk primary breast cancer: results of International Breast Cancer Study Group Trial 15-95

Russell L Basser, Anne O'Neill, Giovanni Martinelli, Michael D Green, Fedro Peccatori, Saverio Cinieri, Alan S Coates, Richard D Gelber, Stefan Aebi, Monica Castiglione-Gertsch, Guiseppe Viale, Karen N Price, Aron Goldhirsch
Journal of Clinical Oncology 2006 January 20, 24 (3): 370-8

PURPOSE: To compare adjuvant dose-intensive epirubicin and cyclophosphamide chemotherapy administered with filgrastim and progenitor cell support (DI-EC) with standard-dose anthracycline-based chemotherapy (SD-CT) for patients with early-stage breast cancer and a high risk of relapse, defined as stage II disease with 10 or more positive axillary nodes; or an estrogen receptor-negative or stage III tumor with five or more positive axillary nodes.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Three hundred forty-four patients were randomized after surgery to receive seven cycles of SD-CT over 22 weeks, or three cycles of DI-EC (epirubicin 200 mg/m2 plus cyclophosphamide 4 gm/m2 with filgrastim and progenitor cell support) over 6 weeks. All patients were assigned tamoxifen at the completion of chemotherapy. The primary end point was disease-free survival (DFS).

RESULTS: After a median follow-up of 5.8 years (range, 3 to 8.4 years), 188 DFS events had occurred (DI-EC, 86 events; SD-CT, 102 events). The 5-year DFS was 52% for DI-EC and 43% for SD-CT, with hazard ratio of DI-EC compared with SD-CT of 0.77 (95% CI, 0.58 to 1.02; P = .07). The 5-year overall survival was 70% for DI-EC and 61% for SD-CT, with a hazard ratio of 0.79 (95% CI, 0.56 to 1.11; P = .17). There were eight cases (5%) of anthracycline-induced cardiomyopathy (two fatal) among those who received DI-EC. Women with hormone receptor-positive tumors benefited significantly from DI-EC.

CONCLUSION: There was a trend in favor of DI-EC with respect to disease-free survival. A larger trial or meta-analysis will be required to reveal the true effect of dose-intensive therapy.

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