Paclitaxel by 3-hour infusion in combination with bolus doxorubicin in women with untreated metastatic breast cancer: High antitumor efficacy and cardiac effects in a dose-finding and sequence-finding study

Luca Gianni, Elisabetta Munzone, Giuseppe Capri, Fabio Fulfaro, Emiliana Tarenzi, Fabrizio Villani, Carlo Spreafico, Alberto Laffranchi, Augusto Caraceni, Cinzia Martini, Marco Stefanelli, Pinuccia Valagussa, Gianni Bonadonna

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Purpose: To define the maximum-tolerated dose (MTD) and better tolerated sequence of paclitaxel by 3-hour infusion plus bolus doxorubicin (DOX) and to evaluate antitumor efficacy. Patients and Methods: Thirty-five women with metastatic breast cancer (dominant visceral metastases in 56%, and involvement of a three sites in 67%) who never received chemotherapy of any type were studied. Paclitaxel every 3 weeks (125 mg/m2 starting dose) was increased by 25-mg/m2 steps in subsequent cohorts of patients. DOX (60 mg/m2 fixed dose) was administered 15 minutes before the start of or after the end of paclitaxel for a maximum of eight cycles. Subsequently, patients in continuous response could receive single-agent paclitaxel (175 to 200 mg/m2 every 3 weeks). The drug sequence was alternated in consecutive patients and in the first two cycles. Results: Severe neutropenia that lasted greater than 7 days (n = 4), febrile neutropenia (n = 7) and grade III oral mucositis (n = 6) defined the MTD of paclitaxel at 200 mg/m2 in 34 assessable patients. Grade II peripheral neuropathy occurred in 33% of patients. Six women (18%) developed clinically reversible congestive heart failure (CHF) after a median of 480 mg/m2 total DOX. Drug sequence had no effect on toxicities. High efficacy on all metastatic sites in 32 assessable patients accounted for a 41% complete response (CR) rate (95% confidence interval [CI], 24% to 59%) and 94% overall-response rate (95% CI, 79% to 99%). After a median follow-up of 12 months (range 3 to 18), the median response duration is 8 months (range, 2+ to 18+) for complete responders and 11 months (range 1+ to 15+) for partial responders. Conclusion: The rate of CR and incidence of CHF may be an expression of therapeutic and toxic enhancement due to the schedule used in this trial. Until clarification of this possibility, this promising combination should be used in investigational trials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2688-2699
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1995


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology

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