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Oncology (Williston Park). 2011 Feb;25(2):115-24, 127.

Can we abandon anthracyclines for early breast cancer patients?

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of California at San Francisco, USA.


Anthracycline-containing regimens improve disease-free and overall survival of patients with early breast cancer, but the toxicity, especially the cardiotoxicity, of the anthracyclines make them unattractive in the adjuvant setting. Two large, randomized trials, one in unselected patients and one in those with HER2-positive tumors, suggest that a taxane combination without an anthracycline might be just as effective as more traditional regimens. These and other studies also suggest that the anthracyclines might reasonably be used only for those with more aggressive forms of breast cancer, as defined by molecular markers. The results of these studies are provocative but insufficient to justify the conclusion that anthracyclines can be either abandoned or used only for a very select group of patients.

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