A dose-finding study of epirubicin in combination with paclitaxel in the treatment of advanced breast cancer

P. F. Conte, A. Michelotti, E. Baldini, B. Salvadori, A. Gennari, M. Da Prato, C. Tibaldi, E. Salzano, A. Gentile

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We performed a dose escalation study to evaluate the maximum tolerated dose of paclitaxel (Taxol; Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Princeton, NJ) given over 3 hours plus bolus epirubicin 90 mg/m2. The starting dose of paclitaxel, 135 mg/m2, was escalated by 20-mg/m2 increments in cohorts of three to six patients. Courses were repeated every 3 weeks. Filgrastim (5 μg/kg/d) was administered to shorten the duration of grade 4 neutropenia lasting longer than 72 hours. Twenty-nine patients have been treated, 86% of whom had failed adjuvant chemotherapy (with anthracyclines in 14 cases). One hundred forty-eight courses have been administered, and the paclitaxel dose has been escalated to 225 mg/m2 without reaching the maximum tolerated dose. The most frequent dose-related toxicity has been grade 4 neutropenia, which occurred in 59% of courses. The median duration of grade 4 neutropenia was 4 days, which was shortened with filgrastim only in patients treated with paclitaxel 228 mg/m2. Eleven episodes of febrile neutropenia (7% of courses) have been observed. Nonhematologic toxicities were mild or moderate: grade 1 or 2 peripheral neuropathy was reported by 41% and 10% of patients, respectively. The cardiac toxicities of this regimen were surprisingly low; median left ventricular ejection fraction was 57% at study entry and 56% after six courses. Only two patients showed a decrease of left ventricular ejection fraction below 50% after six courses, and no signs of anthracycline- induced congestive heart failure were noted. The activity of this novel combination is encouraging: the overall response rate is 80%, with 16% complete responses. We have demonstrated that the combination of epirubicin plus paclitaxel given over 3 hours is feasible with acceptable toxicities, does not appear to be associated with clinically relevant cardiotoxicity, and is active in a population of patients who have failed adjuvant chemotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-31
Number of pages4
JournalSeminars in Oncology
Issue number5 SUPPL. 11
Publication statusPublished - 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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