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Journal of Clinical Oncology, Vol 19, Issue 12 (June), 2001: 3103-3110
© 2001 American Society for Clinical Oncology

Phase III Trial Comparing Two Dose Levels of Epirubicin Combined With Cyclophosphamide With Cyclophosphamide, Methotrexate, and Fluorouracil in Node-Positive Breast Cancer

By Martine J. Piccart, Angelo Di Leo, Marc Beauduin, Anita Vindevoghel, Jacques Michel, Christian Focan, Alain Tagnon, Fernand Ries, Philippe Gobert, Claude Finet, Marie T. Closon-Dejardin, Jean P. Dufrane, Joseph Kerger, Françoise Liebens, Sylvie Beauvois, Sylvie Bartholomeus, Stella Dolci, Jean P. Lobelle, Marianne Paesmans, Jean M. Nogaret

From the Jules Bordet Institute, Belgian and Luxembourg Cooperative Centers, and Pharmacia-Upjohn, Brussels, Belgium.

Address reprint requests to M.J. Piccart, MD, Chemotherapy Unit, Jules Bordet Institute, Boulevard de Waterloo 125, 1000 Brussels, Belgium; email: martine.piccart{at}bordet.be

PURPOSE: To compare a full-dose epirubicin-cyclophosphamide (HEC) regimen with classical cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, and fluorouracil (CMF) therapy and with a moderate-dose epirubicin-cyclophosphamide regimen (EC) in the adjuvant therapy of node-positive breast cancer.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Node-positive breast cancer patients who were aged 70 years or younger were randomly allocated to one of the following treatments: CMF for six cycles (oral cyclophosphamide); EC for eight cycles (epirubicin 60 mg/m2, cyclophosphamide 500 mg/m2; day 1 every 3 weeks); and HEC for eight cycles (epirubicin 100 mg/m2, cyclophosphamide 830 mg/m2; day 1 every 3 weeks).

RESULTS: Two hundred fifty-five, 267, and 255 eligible patients were treated with CMF, EC, and HEC, respectively. Patient characteristics were well balanced among the three arms. One and three cases of congestive heart failure were reported in the EC and HEC arms, respectively. Three cases of acute myeloid leukemia were reported in the HEC arm. After 4 years of median follow-up, no statistically significant differences were observed between HEC and CMF (event-free survival [EFS]: hazards ratio [HR] = 0.96, 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.70 to 1.31, P = .80; distant-EFS: HR = 0.97, 95% CI, 0.70 to 1.34, P = .87; overall survival [OS]: HR = 0.97, 95% CI, 0.65 to 1.44, P = .87). HEC is more effective than EC (EFS: HR = 0.73, 95% CI, 0.54 to 0.99, P = .04; distant-EFS: HR = 0.75, 95% CI, 0.55 to 1.02, P = .06; OS HR = 0.69, 95% CI, 0.47 to 1.00, P = .05).

CONCLUSION: This three-arm study does not show an advantage in favor of an adequately dosed epirubicin-based regimen over classical CMF in the adjuvant therapy of node-positive pre- and postmenopausal women with breast cancer. Moreover, this study confirms that there is a dose-response curve for epirubicin in breast cancer adjuvant therapy.


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