Docetaxel (Taxotere) in combination with anthracyclines in the treatment of breast cancer

Semin Oncol. 2000 Apr;27(2 Suppl 3):11-8.


Considering the single-agent activity of docetaxel (Taxotere; Rhône-Poulenc Rorer, Antony, France) and doxorubicin in breast cancer and their potential non-cross-resistance, several docetaxel/anthracycline-based combination chemotherapies were developed in phase I and II programs for metastatic breast cancer patients. The rationale for these combinations was also reinforced by the fact that docetaxel showed significant activity in phase III trials in patients previously exposed or having failed anthracycline chemotherapy. In a pivotal randomized phase III study of doxorubicin plus docetaxel versus doxorubicin plus cyclophosphamide as first-line chemotherapy for 429 patients with metastatic breast cancer, doxorubicin/docetaxel emerged as the more effective regimen. Despite a lower-dose intensity of doxorubicin, patients receiving doxorubicin/docetaxel experienced a higher response rate as well as a significantly longer time to progression and time to treatment failure. This difference was seen even in patients with poor-prognosis disease. Febrile neutropenia was more common in doxorubicin/docetaxel-treated patients. However, there were no septic deaths among 213 patients receiving doxorubicin/ docetaxel. Extrahematologic toxicity appeared mild for both regimens and the combination docetaxel/doxorubicin did not increase the cardiac toxicity expected for an anthracycline-containing regimen. Docetaxel plus doxorubicin is the first regimen, involving a newly developed agent, proven superior to a standard anthracycline-containing combination in metastatic breast cancer and its potential is now being investigated in the adjuvant setting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Docetaxel
  • Doxorubicin / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Paclitaxel / administration & dosage
  • Paclitaxel / analogs & derivatives
  • Taxoids*


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