Prospective randomized trial of docetaxel versus doxorubicin in patients with metastatic breast cancer

J Clin Oncol. 1999 Aug;17(8):2341-54. doi: 10.1200/JCO.1999.17.8.2341.


Purpose: This phase III study compared docetaxel and doxorubicin in patients with metastatic breast cancer who had received previous alkylating agent-containing chemotherapy.

Patients and methods: Patients were randomized to receive an intravenous infusion of docetaxel 100 mg/m(2) or doxorubicin 75 mg/m(2) every 3 weeks for a maximum of seven treatment cycles.

Results: A total of 326 patients were randomized, 165 to receive doxorubicin and 161 to receive docetaxel. Overall, docetaxel produced a significantly higher rate of objective response than did doxorubicin (47.8% v 33.3%; P =.008). Docetaxel was also significantly more active than doxorubicin in patients with negative prognostic factors, such as visceral metastases (objective response, 46% v 29%) and resistance to prior chemotherapy (47% v 25%). Median time to progression was longer in the docetaxel group (26 weeks v 21 weeks; difference not significant). Median overall survival was similar in the two groups (docetaxel, 15 months; doxorubicin, 14 months). There was one death due to infection in each group, and an additional four deaths due to cardiotoxicity in the doxorubicin group. Although neutropenia was similar in both groups, febrile neutropenia and severe infection occurred more frequently in the doxorubicin group. For severe nonhematologic toxicity, the incidences of cardiac toxicity, nausea, vomiting, and stomatitis were higher among patients receiving doxorubicin, whereas diarrhea, neuropathy, fluid retention, and skin and nail changes were higher among patients receiving docetaxel.

Conclusion: The observed differences in activity and toxicity profiles provide a basis for therapy choice and confirms the rationale for combination studies in early breast cancer.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / therapeutic use*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Docetaxel
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Doxorubicin / administration & dosage
  • Doxorubicin / adverse effects
  • Doxorubicin / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Paclitaxel / administration & dosage
  • Paclitaxel / adverse effects
  • Paclitaxel / analogs & derivatives*
  • Paclitaxel / therapeutic use
  • Taxoids*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Taxoids
  • Docetaxel
  • Doxorubicin
  • Paclitaxel