Background: The Breast Cancer Study Group of the Hellenic Oncology Research Group conducted a phase III trial of single-agent capecitabine versus the vinorelbine/gemcitabine doublet in patients with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) pretreated with anthracyclines and taxanes. The primary objective was to demonstrate superiority of combination treatment in terms of progression-free survival (PFS).
Patients and methods: Women with MBC were randomly assigned to receive either capecitabine (Cap arm: 1250 mg/m(2) twice daily, on days 1-14) or vinorelbine/gemcitabine doublet (VG arm: vinorelbine 25 mg/m(2); gemcitabine 1000 mg/m(2); both drugs on days 1 and 15).
Results: Seventy-four women were treated on each arm and median PFS was 5.4 versus 5.2 months (P = 0.736), for VG and Cap, respectively. Median overall survival was 20.4 months for the VG arm and 22.4 months for the Cap arm (P = 0.319). Overall response rate was 28.4% in the VG arm and 24.3% in the Cap arm (P = 0.576). Both regimens were generally well tolerated. Neutropenia and fatigue were more common with VG arm and hand-foot syndrome with Cap arm.
Conclusions: This trial failed to demonstrate superiority of vinorelbine/gemcitabine doublet over single-agent capecitabine in terms of PFS. Given the favorable toxicity and convenience of oral administration, single-agent capecitabine is recommended for compliant patients.