Evaluation of anemia, neutropenia and skin toxicities in standard or dose-dense doxorubicin/cyclophosphamide (AC)-paclitaxel or docetaxel adjuvant chemotherapy in breast cancer

Ann Oncol. 2005 Feb;16(2):247-52. doi: 10.1093/annonc/mdi058.


Background: Results of CALGB 9741 demonstrated that administering standard doxorubicin/cyclophosphamide (AC)-paclitaxel therapy for adjuvant therapy of breast cancer in a dose-dense fashion with colony-stimulating factors increases efficacy, decreases severe neutropenia, but may increase the need for blood transfusions. A chart review was performed to evaluate the rates of anemia, neutropenia and skin toxicities with dose-dense and traditional AC-taxane chemotherapy.

Patients and methods: A total of 112 patients received one of four treatments: non-dose-dense AC-paclitaxel (NDD Pac), dose-dense AC-paclitaxel (DD Pac), non dose-dense AC-docetaxel (NDD Doc), or dose-dense AC-docetaxel (DD Doc).

Results: Transfusion rates were not increased in the dose-dense population; however, rates of grade 2-4 anemia (23% versus 0%, P=0.029), as well as erythropoietin use (58% versus 0%, P <0.0001), were significantly increased in the DD Pac group compared with the NDD Pac group. Grade 3 skin toxicities were significantly increased in the DD Doc group compared with the NDD Doc group (70% versus 11%, P <0.0001).

Conclusions: These results demonstrate that dose-dense AC-taxane therapy may increase rates of anemia and the need for erythropoietin, and decrease rates of neutropenia. The utility of DD Doc appears limited by skin toxicities and its use outside of a clinical study should not be recommended.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anemia / chemically induced*
  • Anemia / epidemiology
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / adverse effects*
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Blood Transfusion
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Cyclophosphamide / administration & dosage
  • Docetaxel
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Doxorubicin / administration & dosage
  • Erythropoietin / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Middle Aged
  • Neutropenia / chemically induced*
  • Neutropenia / epidemiology
  • Paclitaxel / administration & dosage
  • Paclitaxel / adverse effects*
  • Paclitaxel / therapeutic use*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skin Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Taxoids / administration & dosage
  • Taxoids / adverse effects*
  • Taxoids / therapeutic use*


  • Taxoids
  • Erythropoietin
  • Docetaxel
  • Doxorubicin
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Paclitaxel

Supplementary concepts

  • AC protocol