New Breast Cancer Chemo Drug May Aid Survival
Study: Longer Cancer-Free Survival, Fewer Deaths With Taxotere Than With Older Chemo Drug
WebMD News Archive
June 1, 2005 -- The chemotherapy drug Taxotere may help women with breast
cancer live longer while keeping the disease at bay.
That's in comparison to an older drug, fluorouracil, say researchers in
The New England Journal of Medicine's June 2 edition.
Taxotere "significantly improves the rates of disease-free and overall
survival among women with operable node-positive breast cancer," write
researchers. Aventis Pharmaceuticals, Taxotere's maker, funded the study.
Aventis is a WebMD sponsor.
Doctors working on the study included Miguel Martin, MD, of the Hospital
Universitario San Carlos in Madrid. Nearly 1,500 women with breast cancer took
part. The women lived in 20 countries, were 18-70 years old, and were followed
for about 4.5 years (on average).
The women had "node-positive" breast cancer, meaning the cancer had
spread to their lymph nodes. Like millions of women with early breast cancer,
they first got surgery and then chemotherapy. These anticancer drugs have been
repeatedly shown to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back and the risk of
death in women with breast cancer. They stop cancer growth by killing cancer
cells that have spread to other parts of the body.
The women all got six cycles -- a day of chemotherapy treatment with periods
of days or weeks off between treatments. They either got Taxotere or
fluorouracil, along with two other standard chemotherapy drugs. Each group had
similar numbers of women, and most completed all of the cycles (91% with
Taxotere and 97% with fluorouracil).
After five years, three out of four women that received Taxotere had
survived without cancer's return, compared with 68% of those that received
fluorouracil. That amounts to a 28% cut in the risk of relapse with Taxotere,
the study notes.
The reduction in breast cancer's return did not seem to be driven by certain
risk factors that would make it more likely such as lymph node status or by
HER2/neu status, they write. Disease-free survival was also independent of
menopausal status, they say.
Overall five-year survival was 87% with Taxotere and 81% with fluorouracil,
giving the Taxotere group a 30% lower risk of death.