Luis Balbiani, MD

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Gemcitabine/Paclitaxel as First-Line Treatment of Advanced Breast Cancer

December 1st 2003

Gemcitabine (Gemzar) and paclitaxel exhibit good activity and goodsafety profiles when used alone and together in the treatment of advancedbreast cancer. In a phase II trial, 45 patients with metastaticbreast cancer received gemcitabine at 1,200 mg/m2 on days 1 and 8 andpaclitaxel at 175 mg/m2 on day 1 every 21 days. Twenty-seven patients(60.0%) had prior adjuvant therapy. Objective response was observedin 30 patients (objective response rate 66.7%, 95% confidence interval[CI] = 52%–71%), including complete response in 10 (22.2%) and partialresponse in 20 (44.4%). Median duration of response was 18 months(95% CI = 11–26.7 months), median time to tumor progression for theentire population was 11 months (95% CI = 7.1–18.7 months), medianoverall survival was 19 months (95% CI = 17.3–21.7 months), and the1-year survival rate was 69%. Treatment was well tolerated, with grade3/4 toxicities being infrequent. Grade 3/4 leukopenia, neutropenia, andthrombocytopenia were each observed in six patients (13.3%). No patientwas discontinued from the study due to hematologic ornonhematologic toxicity. Thus, the gemcitabine/paclitaxel combinationshows promising activity and tolerability when used as first-line treatmentin advanced disease. The combination recently has been shownto be superior to paclitaxel alone as first-line treatment in anthracyclinepretreatedadvanced disease according to interim results of a phase IIItrial and it should be further evaluated in comparative trials in breastcancer.