SAN ANTONIOA multicenter phase II study conducted in France has shown
that epirubicin (Ellence) and docetaxel (Taxotere) (ET) offer better results as
first-line chemotherapy than fluorouracil (5-FU), epirubicin, and
cyclophosphamide (FEC) among patients with metastatic breast cancer.
The study was reported by lead researcher Jacques Bonneterre, MD, at the
24th Annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (abstract 27).
Dr. Bonneterre, director of medical oncology, Centre Oscar Lambret, Lille,
France, pointed out that several phase I studies have already demonstrated ET’s
feasibility and safety. "These drugs appear to offer a rational
therapeutic strategy and could be an alternative to standard treatment,"
The 142 patients enrolled in the study were equally divided into two arms.
Patients in arm A were administered 75 mg/m² of epirubicin and 75 mg/m² of
docetaxel. They were also given prophylactic premedication with corticosteroids
(6 × 40 mg of methylprednisolone or its equivalent) for 3 days. Patients in
arm B received 500 mg/m² of 5-FU, 75 mg/m² of epirubicin, and 500 mg/m² of
The treatment was administered once every 21 days for a maximum of eight
cycles, with a maximum cumulative anthracycline dose equivalent to 550 mg/m² doxorubicin.
The median age of patients in both arms was 54. In the ET arm, 61% of the
patients had three or more organs involved and in the FEC arm, 43%. Patients in
both arms had metastases to the soft tissue, viscera, liver, and bone. About
half the patients in each arm had no prior chemotherapy.
The response rate was significantly higher in the ET arm: 63% vs 34.3% in
the FEC arm, Dr. Bonneterre reported. Median time to disease progression was
7.8 months for the ET arm and 5.9 months for the FEC arm.