Purpose: To assess the efficacy and toxicity of docetaxel (D) plus epirubicin (E) in combination with bevacizumab (B) [DEB regimen] as front-line treatment in patients with metastatic breast cancer (MBC).
Patients and methods: Women with previously untreated HER2-negative MBC received B (15 mg/kg), E (75 mg/m2) and D (75 mg/m2) with prophylactic G-CSF support every 3 weeks (q3w) for up to 9 cycles followed by B (15 mg/kg q3w) until disease progression. Primary endpoint was the overall response rate (ORR). Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) were evaluated using the CellSearch system at different time points during therapy.
Results: Eighty-three women were enrolled with median age 62 years, performance status 0-1 in 93%, triple negative disease in 12% and liver metastases in 47%. In an intention to treat analysis, complete response was achieved in 13 (15.7%) and partial response in 42 (50.6%) (overall response rate 66.3%; 95% CI 56.09-76.44%). The median time to progression was 20.1 months and the 1-year overall survival rate 82.3%. Grade 3-4 neutropenia occurred in 37%, febrile neutropenia in 10%, anemia in 4%, thrombocytopenia in 2% and diarrhea in 2% of patients. There were two deaths possibly related to study treatment (sigmoid perforation n = 1; sudden death n = 1). Moreover, one patient developed pulmonary embolism and another one myocardial infarction while on treatment. Although DEB administration significantly reduced the proportion of patients presenting CTCs, the detection of ≥5 or ≥1 CTCs before treatment initiation was significantly associated with worse progression-free survival (p = 0.001 and p = 0.004) and overall survival (p = 0.001 and p = 0.027), respectively.
Conclusions: The DEB regimen is a very active but also potentially toxic combination in MBC. Detection of CTCs before treatment is associated with worse outcome.
Keywords: Bevacizumab; CTC; Docetaxel; Epirubicin; MBC.
Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.