Paclitaxel is a cytotoxic agent with proven antitumour activity in metastatic breast cancer. Weekly administration of paclitaxel has demonstrated sustained efficacy together with a more favourable toxicity profile (e.g. less myelotoxicity) than the 3-weekly administration. This study evaluates the activity and toxicity of weekly paclitaxel (Taxol®) as first-line chemotherapy in elderly patients (>70 years of age) with hormone-refractory metastatic breast cancer. Patients with metastatic breast cancer received 80 mg/m2 paclitaxel administered weekly on days 1, 8 and 15 of a 28-day cycle. Additional cycles were given until disease progression, or unacceptable toxicity. A dose increase to 90 mg/m2 was allowed in the absence of toxicity. 26 Patients received a total of 101 cycles (median 4, range 1-11). 22 patients completed at least two cycles (six administrations). In 23 patients who were evaluable for response, there were 10 partial responses (38%), 9 patients with stable disease (35%), while 4 patients had disease progression (15%). The median duration of response was 194 days (>6 months). Overall treatment was relatively well tolerated, but 8 patients (32%) had to prematurely discontinue treatment because of fatigue. Neuropathy >grade 1 was noted only after five or more cycles in 4 patients. Weekly paclitaxel at this dose and schedule is an effective treatment regimen in the elderly patient with metastatic breast cancer, and is feasible, but yields relevant fatigue in a subset of patients.

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European Journal of Cancer
Department of Surgery

ten Tije, A.J, Smorenburg, C.H, Seynaeve, C.M, Sparreboom, A, Schothorst, K.L, Kerkhofs, L.G, … Verweij, J. (2004). Weekly paclitaxel as first-line chemotherapy for elderly patients with metastatic breast cancer. A multicentre phase II trial. European Journal of Cancer, 40(3), 352–357. doi:10.1016/j.ejca.2003.08.013