Background: Docetaxel has yielded promising response rates as a component of doxorubicin-based combination schedules in patients with metastatic breast cancer, including docetaxel/doxorubicin and docetaxel/doxorubicin/cyclophosphamide (AC). This randomized two-stage phase II study was conducted to evaluate sequential treatment with docetaxel and AC as first-line treatment in patients with recurrent or metastatic breast cancer previously untreated with chemotherapy for metastatic disease. Patients and methods: Thirty-three patients were randomized to either docetaxel (100 mg/m2) on day 1 of a 21-day cycle for three cycles followed by AC (60/600 mg/m2) on day 1 of a 21-day cycle for three cycles (n = 17) or vice-versa (n = 16), without prophylactic granulocyte colony-stimulating factor support. In addition, we compared pre-treatment serum sErbB1 and sErbB2 protein concentrations with that of an age- and menopausal status-matched group of healthy women, and examined changes in serum sErbB1 and sErbB2 protein concentrations in these two treatment schedules. Data from each one of the two arms of the trial (docetaxel then AC, or AC and then docetaxel) were analyzed separately. Results: Enrollment was suspended after the first-stage of accrual, based on statistical design. Confirmed objective response rates after six cycles of treatment were 35% [95% confidence interval (CI) 14% to 62%] with docetaxel then AC and 38% (95% CI 15% to 65%) with AC then docetaxel. Dose reductions were frequent and mostly due to grade 4 neutropenia. Median survival time was 2.5 years in the docetaxel then AC group, and 1.1 years in the AC then docetaxel group. Serum sErbB1 concentrations were not significantly different between the study patients and healthy women, and did not change significantly after three and six cycles of treatment. In contrast, serum sErbB2 concentrations were significantly higher in the study patients compared with healthy women and tended to decrease after three and six cycles of treatment. Conclusions: Response rates at the end of six cycles of treatment, which led to termination of accrual after the first stage using either the sequence of docetaxel first or docetaxel after AC chemotherapy, were lower than anticipated. However, median survival times and median progression-free survival times are similar to those reported in other studies. These data further suggest that additional studies to assess whether serum sErbB2 concentrations are useful predictors of responsiveness to chemotherapy are warranted.
- Breast cancer
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