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Womens Health (Lond Engl). 2009 Sep;5(5):481-4. doi: 10.2217/whe.09.43.

Adjuvant chemotherapy for older adults with breast cancer: making the standard a standard.

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  • 1Division of Genitourinary Malignancies, Department of Medical Oncology & Experimental Therapeutics, City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center, Duarte, CA 91010, USA. spal@coh.org


Muss HB, Berry DA, Cirrincione CT et al.: Adjuvant chemotherapy in older women with early-stage breast cancer. N. Engl. J. Med. 360, 2055-2065 (2009). To date, only two prospective trials evaluating adjuvant therapy for breast cancer in older adults have been published. The second and more recent trial, Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB) 49907, provides substantial evidence supporting the use of standard adjuvant chemotherapy regimens (doxorubicin-cyclophosphamide or cyclophosphamide-methotrexate-5-fluorouracil) as opposed to simplified oral regimens (capecitabine). In this trial, both the risk of relapse (hazard ratio: 2.09; 95% CI: 1.38-3.17; p < 0.001) and the risk of death (hazard ratio: 1.85; 95% CI: 1.11-3.08; p = 0.02) were significantly higher with capecitabine compared with standard chemotherapy. The current review explores both the implications and potential caveats of this innovative trial. CALGB 49907 represents a paradigm for further studies of adjuvant cancer therapy in older adults.

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