Sixteen-week multidrug regimen versus cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, and fluorouracil as adjuvant therapy for node-positive, receptor-negative breast cancer: An intergroup study

Johns Hopkins Oncology Center, Baltimore, MD 21287, USA.
Journal of Clinical Oncology (Impact Factor: 18.43). 08/1998; 16(7):2382-91.
Source: PubMed


The Intergroup conducted this breast cancer adjuvant trial to compare an investigational 16-week regimen with cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, and fluorouracil (5-FU; CAF). The 16-week regimen features greater doxorubicin and 5-FU dose-intensity than CAF and improved scheduling of antimetabolites with sequential methotrexate and 5-FU, as well as infusion 5-FU.
A total of 646 node-positive, receptor-negative patients were randomly assigned to receive either the 1 6-week regimen or six cycles of CAF. Breast cancer outcomes included recurrence as well as disease-free and overall survival. Toxicity was evaluated by the Common Toxicity Criteria (CTC). Treatment-related quality of life was assessed by the Breast Chemotherapy Questionnaire (BCQ) before, during, and 4 months after treatment in 163 patients. The trial was designed to use one-sided tests of significance for power calculations, but is now reported with both one-sided and the traditional two-sided tests of significance.
At a median follow-up of 3.9 years, the estimated 4-year recurrence-free survival rate was 67.5% with the 16-week regimen versus 62.7% with CAF (P = .19, two-sided; P = .095, one-sided). The estimated 4-year survival rate was 78.1% with the 16-week regimen versus 71.4% with CAF (P = .10, two-sided; P = .05, one-sided). CAF produced significantly higher grades of leukopenia, granulocytopenia, and thrombocytopenia, as well as liver and cardiac toxicity, whereas the 16-week regimen produced significantly higher grades of anemia, nausea, stomatitis, and weight loss, as well as skin and neurotoxicity. There were three treatment-related deaths with CAF but none with the 16-week regimen. During treatment, quality of life declined significantly more with the 16-week regimen than CAF, but by 4 months posttreatment, there was no difference.
The 16-week regimen produced marginally better breast cancer outcomes than CAF with similar toxicity but a greater reduction in during-treatment quality of life. The 16-week regimen should not be used instead of a standard-dose regimen without careful consideration of the 16-week regimen's pros and cons, which include its complicated schedule. It should probably not be tested further, but its antimetabolite schedules and frequent drug administration (ie, dose density) should be considered in the development of new regimens.

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    • "In a direct compar - ison , six courses of classical CMF ( 154 days ) and four courses of AC yielded similar results despite the different durations ( Fisher et al , 1990 , 2000 ) . Likewise a short but complex 16 - week regimen ( including a continuous administration of cytotoxics during the entire period of treatment ) yielded results marginally superior to those seen with six courses of cyclophosphamide , doxorubicin and 5 - fluorouracil ( CAF ) ( Fetting et al , 1998 ) . On the other hand , the US Intergroup trial of the addition of 4 cycles of paclitaxel ( Taxol 1 ) following four cycles of AC demonstrated a small but significant improvement in disease - free and overall survival using the longer , different regimen ( Henderson et al , 1998 ) . "
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    ABSTRACT: Cyclophosphamide, methotrexate and fluorouracil adjuvant combination chemotherapy for breast cancer is currently used for the duration of six monthly courses. We performed a joint analysis of two studies on the duration of adjuvant cyclophosphamide, methotrexate and fluorouracil in patients with node-positive breast cancer to investigate whether three courses of cyclophosphamide, methotrexate and fluorouracil might suffice. The International Breast Cancer Study Group Trial VI randomly assigned 735 pre- and perimenopausal patients to receive ‘classical’ cyclophosphamide, methotrexate and fluorouracil for three consecutive cycles, or the same chemotherapy for six consecutive cycles. The German Breast Cancer Study Group randomised 289 patients to receive either three or six cycles of i.v. cyclophosphamide, methotrexate and fluorouracil day 1, 8. Treatment effects were estimated using Cox regression analysis stratified by clinical trial without further adjustment for covariates. The 5-year disease-free survival per cents (±s.e.) were 54±2% for three cycles and 55±2% for six cycles (n=1024; risk ratio (risk ratio: CMF×3/CMF×6), 1.00; 95% confidence interval, 0.85 to 1.18; P=0.99). Use of three rather than six cycles was demonstrated to be adequate in both studies for patients at least 40-years-old with oestrogen-receptor-positive tumours (n=594; risk ratio, 0.86; 95% confidence interval, 0.68 to 1.08; P=0.19). In fact, results slightly favoured three cycles over six for this subgroup, and the 95% confidence interval excluded an adverse effect of more than 2% with respect to absolute 5-year survival. In contrast, three cycles appeared to be possibly inferior to six cycles for women less than 40-years-old (n=190; risk ratio, 1.25; 95% confidence interval, 0.87 to 1.80; P=0.22) and for women with oestrogen-receptor-negative tumours (n=302; risk ratio, 1.15; 95% confidence interval, 0.85 to 1.57; P=0.37). Thus, three initial cycles of adjuvant cyclophosphamide, methotrexate and fluorouracil chemotherapy were as effective as six cycles for older patients (40-years-old) with oestrogen-receptor-positive tumours, while six cycles of adjuvant cyclophosphamide, methotrexate and fluorouracil might still be required for other cohorts. Because endocrine therapy with tamoxifen and GnRH analogues is now available for younger women with oestrogen-receptor-positive tumours, the need for six cycles of cyclophosphamide, methotrexate and fluorouracil is unclear and requires further investigation. British Journal of Cancer (2002) 86, 1705–1714. doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6600334 © 2002 Cancer Research UK
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