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Stemmler, Hans-Joachim; Harbeck, Nadia; de Rivera, Isolde Groell; Kaiser, Ursula Vehling; Rauthe, Gerhard; Abenhardt, Wolfgang; Artmann, Almut; Sommer, Harald; Meerpohl, Hans-Gerd; Kiechle, Marion; Heinemann, Volker (2010): Prospective Multicenter Randomized Phase III Study of Weekly versus Standard Docetaxel plus Doxorubicin (D4) for First-Line Treatment of Metastatic Breast Cancer. In: Oncology, No. 3-4: pp. 204-210




Purpose: Previous phase II studies have indicated a greatly reduced hematotoxicity of docetaxel-based regimens administered on weekly schedules. The present trial was initiated to compare the toxicity and efficacy of weekly docetaxel versus its standard 3-weekly application in combination with doxorubicin. Methods: Patients previously untreated with chemotherapy for metastatic disease were recruited. Inclusion criteria were age <65 years or a Karnofsky Performance Status of 70-100%. All patients in the D4 study received doxorubicin (50 mg/m(2)) on the first day of treatment in addition to docetaxel given either at a 3-weekly dose of 75 mg/m(2) every 3 weeks (q3w) or at a weekly dose of 35 mg/m(2) (days 1, 8, and 15; q4w). Treatment was continued until a maximum of 8 cycles, unacceptable toxicity, or disease pro gression. All patients received standard corticosteroid prophylaxis. Results: Since interim analysis showed failure to reach a significant difference for the primary endpoint (hematotoxicity, i.e. leukopenia), the study was closed according to the study protocol (85 of 242 patients). A lower-than-expected rate of leukopenia >= grade 3 was observed in the standard arm of the D4 study compared to the weekly schedule (per-patient analysis: 61.9% q3w vs. 65.1% q1w; p > 0.05). Grade 3 and grade 4 fever, diarrhea, and infections occurred more frequently in the standard arm, whereas neurotoxicity and skin/nail disorders were observed more frequently in the weekly arm. Except for fever, none of these differences reached a level of significance. Dose delays, dose reductions, and the rate of omitted doses were increased in the weekly arm. The overall response rate was 44.2% in the weekly arm compared to 52.4% in the standard arm (p = 0.52). Time to progression was 6.2 (q1w) versus 10.3 (q3w) months (p = 0.36), and overall survival was 20.5 (q1w) versus 28.7 (q3w) months (p = 0.98). Conclusion: The present data support the feasibility of both weekly and 3-weekly application of docetaxel in combination with doxorubicin. Nevertheless, given that leukopenia was similar in both arms and the efficacy parameters were at least numerically inferior with the weekly schedule, standard 3-weekly application seems to be preferable for patients requiring combination chemotherapy. Copyright (C) 2011 S. Karger AG, Basel