Background: In anthracycline-pretreated metastatic breast cancer (MBC) patients, it is unknown whether weekly single-agent docetaxel is preferable to 3-weekly docetaxel regarding its toxicity and efficacy profile. Patients and methods: In this multicenter, randomised, open-label phase III trial, 162 patients were randomised to weekly docetaxel (group A) or 3-weekly docetaxel (group B). The primary end-point was tolerability; secondary end-points were efficacy and quality of life (QoL). Results: Group A (weekly docetaxel, n = 79) experienced less haematological toxicity, with just 1.3% versus 16.9% febrile neutropenia in group B (3-weekly docetaxel, n = 77) (p = 0.001). Not this difference, but fatigue and general malaise foremost led to more patient withdrawals in group A (24 versus 12 patients, p = 0.032), less patients completing treatment (29 versus 43 patients, p = 0.014) and reduced dose-intensity (15.6 versus 26 mg/m2/week, 58% versus 70% of projected dose, p = 0.017). As a result, 3-weekly docetaxel was related to better overall survival in multivariate analysis (hazard ratio 0.70, p = 0.036), although in univariate analysis efficacy was similar in both groups. Reported QoL was similar in both groups, but less effective treatment with more general toxicity led to less completed QoL forms in group A (65.4% versus 50%, p=0.049). Conclusion: Weekly docetaxel is less well tolerated than a 3-weekly schedule, due to more non-haematological toxicity, despite less febrile neutropenia. Also, no efficacy benefits can be demonstrated for weekly docetaxel, which may even be inferior based on multivariate analysis. Therefore, a 3-weekly schedule should be preferred in the setting of MBC.

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European Journal of Cancer
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Schröder, C., de Munck, L., Westermann, A., Smit, W., Creemers, G.-J., de Graaf, H., … Willemse, P. (2011). Weekly docetaxel in metastatic breast cancer patients: No superior benefits compared to three-weekly docetaxel. European Journal of Cancer, 47(9), 1355–1362. doi:10.1016/j.ejca.2010.12.018