Docetaxel versus paclitaxel in breast cancer Results of worlds first head to head trial

Copenhagen, Denmark: Eagerly awaited results from the world's first head to head trial between the anti-cancer drugs docetaxel (Taxotere) and paclitaxel (Taxol)[1] have shown that there was a better overall response rate and longer overall survival among breast cancer patients given docetaxel although docetaxel was associated with more severe side effects.

The new results were presented for the first time today (Wednesday 24 September) at ECCO 12 The European Cancer Conference taking place in Copenhagen.

Four hundred and forty nine women with advanced incurable breast cancer who had received previous treatment with an anthracycline-based chemotherapy were randomised into the Phase III trial from multiple centres across the USA between 1994 and 20012. Half were treated with paclitaxel and half were treated with docetaxel.

The trial's principal investigator, Professor Peter Ravdin, associate professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, told a news briefing that the women treated with docetaxel survived for a median 15.4 months compared with a median 12.7 months for the women who received paclitaxel.

There was an overall response rate of nearly a third among the docetaxel patients compared with a quarter for the paclitaxel patients. The median time before the breast cancer progressed (TTP) was 5.7 months for the docetaxel patients and 3.6 months for the paclitaxel patients. The results for overall survival and for TTP were statistically significantly superior for docetaxel and the overall response rate in favour of docetaxel approached statistical significance.

However, the women who received docetaxel did experience more severe side effects (grade 3/4 toxicities) with higher incidences of neutropenia (reduction in infection-fighting white blood cells), asthenia (loss of strength), infection, oedema (abnormal accumulation of fluid), mouth ulcers and neuromotor and n

Contact: Margaret Willson
Federation of European Cancer Societies

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