Tolerability of bevacizumab and chemotherapy in a phase 3 clinical trial with human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-negative breast cancer: A trajectory analysis of adverse events

Cancer. 2021 Dec 15;127(24):4546-4556. doi: 10.1002/cncr.33992. Epub 2021 Nov 2.


Background: E5103 was a study designed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of bevacizumab. It was a negative trial for the end points of invasive disease-free survival and overall survival. The current work examines the tolerability of bevacizumab and other medication exposures with respect to clinical outcomes and patient-reported outcomes (PROs).

Methods: Adverse events (AEs) collected from the Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events were summarized to form an AE profile at each treatment cycle. All-grade and high-grade events were separately analyzed. The change in the AE profile over the treatment cycle was delineated as distinct AE trajectory clusters. AE-related and any-reason early treatment discontinuations were treated as clinical outcome measures. PROs were measured with the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Breast + Lymphedema. The relationships between the AE trajectory and early treatment discontinuation as well as PROs were analyzed.

Results: More than half of all AEs (57.5%) were low-grade. A cluster of patients with broad and mixed AE (all-grade) trajectory grades was significantly associated with any-reason early treatment discontinuation (odds ratio [OR], 2.87; P = .01) as well as AE-related discontinuation (OR, 4.14; P = .001). This cluster had the highest count of all-grade AEs per cycle in comparison with other clusters. Another cluster of patients with primary neuropathic AEs in their trajectories had poorer physical well-being in comparison with a trajectory of no or few AEs (P < .01). A high-grade AE trajectory did not predict discontinuations.

Conclusions: A sustained and cumulative burden of across-the-board toxicities, which were not necessarily all recognized as high-grade AEs, contributed to early treatment discontinuation. Patients with neuropathic all-grade AEs may require additional attention for preventing deterioration in their physical well-being.

Trial registration: NCT00433511.

Keywords: adverse events; breast cancer; drug treatment; early treatment discontinuation; patient-reported outcome; peripheral neuropathy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Bevacizumab* / adverse effects
  • Clinical Trials, Phase III as Topic
  • Humans
  • Receptor, ErbB-2
  • Triple Negative Breast Neoplasms* / drug therapy


  • Bevacizumab
  • Receptor, ErbB-2

Associated data