The role of the liposomal anthracyclines and other systemic therapies in the management of advanced breast cancer.

The Cancer Center, Inova Fairfax Hospital, Falls Church, VA, USA.
Seminars in Oncology (Impact Factor: 3.94). 01/2005; 31(6 Suppl 13):106-46. DOI: 10.1053/j.seminoncol.2004.09.018
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT For patients whose breast cancers are not responsive to endocrine therapy, there are a large number of cytotoxic drugs that will induce a response. In spite of the introduction of new, very active drugs such as the taxanes, vinorelbine, capecitabine, gemcitabine, and trastuzumab, the anthracyclines are still as active as any--and more active than most--drugs used to treat breast cancer. Their inclusion in combinations to treat early and advanced disease prolongs survival. However, they cause nausea, vomiting, alopecia, myelosuppression, mucositis, and cardiomyopathies. There is no evidence that increasing the dose of conventional anthracyclines or any other of the cytotoxics beyond standard doses will improve outcomes. Schedule may be more important than dose in determining the benefit of cytotoxics used to treat breast cancer. Weekly schedules and continuous infusions of 5-fluorouracil and doxorubicin may have some advantages over more intermittent schedules. Liposomal formations of doxorubicin reduce toxicity, including cardiotoxicity; theoretically they should also be more effective because of better targeting of tumor over normal tissues. Both pegylated liposomal doxorubicin (Doxil/Caelyx [PLD]) and liposomal doxorubicin (Myocet [NPLD]) appeared to be as effective as conventional doxorubicin and much less toxic in multiple phase II and phase III studies. PLD has been evaluated in combinations with cyclophosphamide, the taxanes, vinorelbine, gemcitabine, and trastuzumab, and NPLD has been evaluated in combination with cyclophosphamide and trastuzumab. Both liposomal anthracyclines are less cardiotoxic than conventional doxorubicin. The optimal dose of PLD is lower than that of conventional doxorubicin or NPLD. Patients treated with PLD have almost no alopecia, nausea, or vomiting, but its use is associated with stomatitis and hand-foot syndrome, which can be avoided or minimized with the use of proper dose-schedules. In contrast, the optimal dose-schedule of NPLD is nearly identical to that of conventional doxorubicin. The toxicity profile of NPLD is similar to that of conventional doxorubicin, but toxicities are less severe and NPLD is better tolerated than conventional doxorubicin at higher doses.

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    ABSTRACT: Preclinical studies have established the pharmacologic advantages of liposomal anthracyclines, including pharmacokinetic profiles after bolus dosing that resemble continuous infusion of conventional anthracyclines, increased drug concentrations in tumor cells compared with the surrounding tissues, and reduced toxicity relative to conventional anthracycline treatment. Based on these studies, many phase I and phase II clinical trials were conducted to assess the safety and potential activity of liposomal anthracyclines in the management of both solid and hematologic tumors. These studies provided valuable insight into the safety of pegylated liposomal doxorubicin (Doxil/Caelyx [PLD]), nonpegylated liposomal doxorubicin (Myocet [NPLD]), and liposomal daunorubicin (DaunoXome [DNX]) over a range of doses, either as single-agent therapy or in combination with other cytotoxic agents. Other liposomal anthracyclines in development may be well tolerated but their activity remains to be elucidated by clinical trials. The available data also suggest that liposomal anthracyclines have activity not only against tumor types with known sensitivity to conventional anthracyclines, but also potentially for tumors that are typically anthracycline-resistant. Despite the availability of clinical data from a wide variety of tumor types and patient populations, further studies of liposomal anthracycline therapy are needed to fully establish their safety, efficacy, and dosing in the treatment of these patients.
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