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Older Breast Cancer Patients Benefit From Weekly Administration of Paclitaxel

Older Breast Cancer Patients Benefit From Weekly Administration of Paclitaxel

Weekly administration of the drug paclitaxel (Taxol) is as effective and well tolerated in advanced breast cancer patients over age 65 as it is in younger patients, according to a study presented by Edith Perez, MD, at the 37th annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

"Most new cases of invasive breast cancer are diagnosed in women over age 60," said Dr. Perez, director of cancer research and clinical trials at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. "Despite that fact, chemotherapy is often not offered as a treatment option because of perceptions of increased toxicity or diminished benefit. This study shows older breast cancer patients treated with weekly paclitaxel benefit as much and tolerate treatment just as well as younger patients."

Response Rates and Toxicities Similar Between Groups

According to the study, weekly administration of paclitaxel resulted in a 20% response rate in women over age 65 with metastatic breast cancer and a 22% response rate in those under age 65. The incidence of major toxicities was similar in both groups. In the older group, 14% experienced neutropenia and a reduction in white blood cells, and 13% experienced neuropathy, nerve pain, and numbness in the extremities. In the younger group, 15% experienced neutropenia and 8% experienced neuropathy.

Half of the patients over 65 and 37% of those under 65 achieved disease stabilization. The average duration of response was 245 days in patients over 65 and 285 days in patients under 65. Median time to disease progression was 214 days for older patients and 134 days for younger patients, with the average overall survival being 377 days in older patients and 424 days in younger patients.

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