Purpose: To determine the place of single-agent paclitaxel compared with nonanthracycline combination chemotherapy as front-line therapy in metastatic breast cancer.
Patients and methods: Patients with previously untreated metastatic breast cancer were randomized to receive either paclitaxel 200 mg/m(2) intravenously (IV) over 3 hours for eight cycles (24 weeks) or standard cyclophosphamide 100 mg/m(2)/d orally on days 1 to 14, methotrexate 40 mg/m(2) IV on days 1 and 8, fluorouracil 600 mg/m(2) IV on days 1 and 8, and prednisone 40 mg/m(2)/d orally on days 1 to 14 (CMFP) for six cycles (24 weeks) with epirubicin recommended as second-line therapy.
Results: A total of 209 eligible patients were randomized with a median survival duration of 17.3 months for paclitaxel and 13.9 months for CMFP. Multivariate analysis showed that patients who received paclitaxel survived significantly longer than those who received CMFP (P =.025). Paclitaxel produced significantly less severe leukopenia, thrombocytopenia, mucositis, documented infections (all P <.001), nausea or vomiting (P =.003), and fever without documented infection (P =.007), and less hospitalization for febrile neutropenia than did CMFP (P =.001). Alopecia, peripheral neuropathy, and myalgia or arthralgia were more severe with paclitaxel (all P <.0001). Overall, quality of life was similar for both treatments (P > = .07).
Conclusion: Initial paclitaxel was associated with significantly less myelosuppression and fewer infections, with longer survival and similar quality of life and control of metastatic breast cancer compared with CMFP.