Salvage treatment with epirubicin and/or paclitaxel in metastatic breast cancer patients relapsed after high-dose chemotherapy with peripheral blood progenitor cells

A. Tartarone, Z. Sirotovà, M. Aieta, G. Lelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Aims and background: To evaluate feasibility and efficacy of paclitaxel as a single agent or in combination with epirubicin in breast cancer taxane-naive patients who have failed previous high-dose chemotherapy. Methods: Since February 1995, we have treated 32 patients in first relapse or progression after high-dose chemotherapy. Nineteen patients had metastatic breast cancer, 12 more than 3 involved axillary lymph nodes, and 1 inflammatory breast cancer at inclusion to the program. The median time to relapse after high-dose chemotherapy was 12 months (range, 2-43). At relapse, 12 patients were treated with epirubicin (90 mg/m2) plus paclitaxel (175 mg/m2) administered on day 1 every 21 days. In 20 patients who had previously received more than 350 mg/m2 of a cumulative dose of epirubicin and in one patient pretreated with chemotherapy containing mitoxantrone, we employed paclitaxel (175 mg/m2) alone. A median number of five courses was administered (range, 2-10). Results: The overall response rate after 3 courses (29 of 32 patients were assessable) was 55% and after 6 courses (21 of 32 patients were assessable) was 57%. The median time to progression was 7 months (95% Cl,5.7-9.2), and median survival was 27.5 months (95% Cl, 17.8-37.0). Toxicity was recorded for 180 cycles (epirubicin + paclitaxel for 62 cycles and paclitaxel alone for 118 cycles). The main toxicity in both regimens was hematologic. We observed WHO grade 3-4 neutropenia (in 8 patients, 25%), for which G-CSF (5 μg/kg/day sc) was employed. WHO grade 3-4 thrombocytopenia occurred in 2 patients (6%) and WHO grade 3 anemia in 1 patient (3%). Conclusions: Our study showed that paclitaxel (alone or in combination with epirubicin) is feasible as salvage treatment in heavily pretreated patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-137
Number of pages4
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2001



  • Breast cancer
  • Epirubicin
  • High-dose chemotherapy
  • Paclitaxel
  • Salvage treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research

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