Sequential administration of the association of 5-fluorouracil, epirubicin and cyclophosphamide (FEC) and paclitaxel could be better tolerated than the association of an anthracycline and paclitaxel while having a similar antitumour effect. 69 patients with advanced breast cancer previously untreated with anthracyclines or paclitaxel entered a phase II multicentre study in which FEC was followed by paclitaxel. Both regimens were administered 4 times every 21 days. The median follow-up is 20 months and 38/69 patients have died. Grade III-IV toxicity was acceptable. Leukopenia occurred in 26% of patients, thrombocytopenia in 2% and anaemia in 4%. One patient had reversible heart failure during FEC therapy. Peripheral neuropathy and arthralgia-myalgia occurred in 9% and 4% of patients, respectively and one patient had respiratory hypersensitivity during paclitaxel treatment. 9 patients did not complete therapy because of: treatment refusal (n = 1), cardiac toxicity (n = 1), early death during FEC chemotherapy (n = 1), major protocol violations (n = 4), hypersensitivity reaction (n = 1) and early death during paclitaxel chemotherapy (n = 1). The overall response rate was 65% (95% Cl = 53-76), and 7% of patients had stable disease. Therapy was defined as having failed in 28% of patients because they were not evaluable (13%) or had progressive disease (15%). The median time to progression and survival are 13.2 and 23.5 months, respectively. Sequential FEC-paclitaxel is a suitable strategy for patients with metastatic breast cancer who have not been previously treated with anthracyclines and/or taxanes. In fact, it avoids major haematologic toxicity and has a good antitumour effect.
- Advanced breast cancer
- Anthracycline-containing regimen
- Sequential chemotherapy
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research