Purpose: To assess the validity of objective response to chemotherapy as a surrogate end point for survival in metastatic breast cancer. Patients and Methods: We carried out a meta-analysis on individual data from 2,126 metastatic breast cancer patients who were enrolled onto 10 randomized trials comparing standard versus intensified epirubicin-containing chemotherapy. Results: The intensified chemotherapy was associated with a significantly higher tumor response rate compared with standard chemotherapy (pooled odds ratio for nonresponse, 0.60; 95% CI, 0.51 to 0.72). The intensified regimens also led to better (although not significant) survival (pooled odds ratio, 0.94; 95% CI, 0.86 to 1.04; P = .22). Tumor response was a highly significant predictor of survival (P <.0001). When tumor response was introduced in the Cox model, the hazard ratio in favor of experimental treatment changed from 0.94 to 1.005 (95% CI, 0.91 to 1.11; P = .92), indicating that no residual effect of the experimental treatment on survival was present once tumor response was adjusted for. This suggests that the overall survival benefit of intensified epirubicin was a result of the increase in response rate. The median survival time of patients with complete response and partial response was 28.8 months (95% CI, 25.4 to 45.3 months) and 21.3 months (95% CI, 19.2 to 22.4 months), respectively; whereas, the median survival time of patients with no response was 14.6 months (95% CI, 13.9 to 15.4 months). Conclusion: These results support the hypothesis that the achievement of an objective response to chemotherapy in metastatic breast cancer is associated with a true survival benefit. The potential role of objective response as a surrogate end point for survival in chemotherapy trials of metastatic breast cancer warrants further investigation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research