Paclitaxel (Taxol) provides a nearly 40% improvement in survival with
good quality of life in patients with metastatic breast cancer,
according to a landmark study led by James F. Bishop, MD, director of
the Sydney Cancer Centre and Professor of Cancer Medicine at the
University of Sydney, Australia.
The phase III, multicenter trial randomized 209 patients with
previously untreated metastatic breast cancer to either single-agent
paclitaxel or combination cyclophosphamide, methotrexate,
fluorouracil, and prednisone (CMFP). Results showed a 39% 2-year
survival rate in patients treated with the paclitaxel regime, as
compared with a 20% rate in those given the CMFP regimen.
Improved Survival Plus Better Quality of Life
According to the study, patients treated with paclitaxel had nearly
double the chance of being alive after 2 years. The median survival
for the paclitaxel group was 17.3 months vs 13.9 months for the CMFP
group. Paclitaxel-treated patients were shown to have approximately a
30% improvement in survival rate after adjustment was made for such
factors as visceral disease, performance status, and years since
Patients taking paclitaxel also reported an improved overall quality
of life, compared to patients on the CMFP arm, who experienced a
decline in quality of life. Compared to the CMFP-treated patients,
the paclitaxel-treated patients reported significantly less
toxicities, such as nausea and vomiting, mucositis, leukopenia, and
thrombocytopenia, as well as fewer infections and hospitalizations
for subsequent infections.General side effects attributable to
paclitaxel included alopecia, peripheral neuropathy and arthralgia/myalgia.
This study is part of a growing body of scientific research
demonstrating the value of Taxol across all stages of breast cancer.
Taxol has clearly shown a survival benefit for early stage, as well
as metastatic breast cancer patients, said Dr. Bishop.
As the more favorable regimen, Taxol should be considered a
standard of care for first-line treatment of metastatic breast
cancer, he added.
The study was published in the August 1999 issue of the Journal of