Randomized phase III trial of weekly compared with every-3-weeks paclitaxel for metastatic breast cancer, with trastuzumab for all HER-2 overexpressors and random assignment to trastuzumab or not in HER-2 nonoverexpressors: final results of Cancer and Leukemia Group B protocol 9840

J Clin Oncol. 2008 Apr 1;26(10):1642-9. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2007.11.6699.


Purpose: Phase II trials suggested that weekly paclitaxel might be more effective and less toxic than every-3-weeks administration for metastatic breast cancer (MBC). Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB) protocol 9840 was initiated to address this question. Subsequently trastuzumab was demonstrated to improve outcomes of paclitaxel therapy for human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 (HER-2)-positive patients, and was therefore incorporated. Because inhibition of HER-family signaling had potential efficacy even without HER-2 overexpression, we randomly assigned for trastuzumab in this population.

Patients and methods: Patients were randomly assigned to paclitaxel 175 mg/m(2) every 3 weeks or 80 mg/m(2) weekly. After the first 171 patients, all HER-2-positive patients received trastuzumab; HER-2 nonoverexpressors were randomly assigned for trastuzumab, in addition to paclitaxel schedule. A total of 577 patients were treated on 9840. An additional 158 patients were included in analyses, for combined sample of 735. The primary end point was response rate (RR); secondary end points were time to progression (TTP), overall survival, and toxicity. Primary comparisons were between weekly versus every-3-weeks paclitaxel, and trastuzumab versus no trastuzumab in HER-2 nonoverexpressors.

Results: In the combined sample, weekly paclitaxel was superior to every-3-weeks administration: RR (42% v 29%, unadjusted odds ratio [OR] = 1.75; P = .0004), TTP (median, 9 v 5 months; adjusted HR = 1.43; P < .0001), and survival (median, 24 v 12 months; adjusted HR = 1.28; P = .0092). For HER-2 nonoverexpressors, trastuzumab did not improve efficacy. Grade 3 neuropathy was more common with weekly dosing (24% v 12%; P = .0003).

Conclusion: Weekly paclitaxel is more effective than every-3-weeks administration for MBC. Trastuzumab did not improve efficacy for HER-2 nonoverexpressors. Neurotoxicity is a treatment-limiting toxicity for weekly paclitaxel.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase III
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / administration & dosage*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / administration & dosage*
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / adverse effects
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / mortality
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Middle Aged
  • Paclitaxel / administration & dosage*
  • Paclitaxel / adverse effects
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / biosynthesis*
  • Trastuzumab


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Receptor, ErbB-2
  • Trastuzumab
  • Paclitaxel