Randomized, Phase III Trial of Sequential Epirubicin and Docetaxel Versus Epirubicin Alone in Postmenopausal Patients With Node-Positive Breast Cancer

R. Charles Coombes*, Judith M. Bliss, Marc Espie, Frans L. G. Erdkamp, Jacob Wals, Alejandro Tres, Michel Marty, Robert E. Coleman, Nicole Tubiana-Mathieu, Marinus O. den Boer, Andrew Wardley, Lucy S. Kilburn, Derek Cooper, Marina W. K. Thomas, Justine A. Reise, Katie Wilkinson, Pierre Hupperets

*Corresponding author for this work

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Purpose The Docetaxel Epirubicin Adjuvant (DEVA) trial evaluated the efficacy and toxicity of incorporating docetaxel after epirubicin to create a sequential anthracycline-taxane regimen in early breast cancer. Patients and Methods After complete tumor excision, postmenopausal women with node-positive early breast cancer were randomly assigned to either epirubicin 50 mg/m(2) on days 1 and 8 every 4 weeks for six cycles (EPI x 6) or three cycles of epirubicin 50 mg/m(2) on days 1 and 8 every 4 weeks followed by three cycles of docetaxel 100 mg/m(2) on day 1 every 3 weeks (EPI-DOC). A subset of patients also participated in a quality of life (QOL) study. The primary end point was disease-free survival (DFS). Results From 1997 to 2005, 803 patients entered DEVA (EPI x 6, n = 397; EPI-DOC, n = 406). At a median follow-up of 64.7 months (interquartile range, 45.2 to 84.4 months), 198 DFS events had been reported (EPI x 6, n = 114; EPI-DOC, n = 84). The 5-year DFS rates were 72.7% (95% CI, 68.0% to 77.3%) for epirubicin alone and 79.5% (95% CI, 75.2% to 83.8%) for epirubicin followed by docetaxel; evidence of improvement in DFS was observed with EPI-DOC (hazard ratio [HR], 0.68; 95% CI, 0.52 to 0.91; P = .008). One hundred twenty-seven patients have died (EPI x 6, n = 75; EPI-DOC, n = 52); a reduction in deaths was observed with EPI-DOC (HR, 0.66; 95% CI, 0.46 to 0.94; P = .02). The 5-year overall survival rates were 81.8% (95% CI, 77.7% to 85.9%) for epirubicin and 88.9% (95% CI, 85.5% to 92.2%) for epirubicin followed by docetaxel. Assessment of toxicity and QOL showed that EPI-DOC was associated with greater toxicity but with no difference in QOL between arms during follow-up. Conclusion These results suggest, within a relatively small trial, that substitution of docetaxel for epirubicin for the last three cycles of chemotherapy results in improved outcome in postmenopausal women with node-positive, early breast cancer compared with six cycles of epirubicin monotherapy. J Clin Oncol 29:3247-3254.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3247-3254
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 20 Aug 2011

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