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J Clin Oncol. 1995 Feb;13(2):424-9.

High complete remission rates with primary neoadjuvant infusional chemotherapy for large early breast cancer.

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  • 1Breast Unit, Royal Marsden Hospital, London, England.



To investigate the efficacy of continuous infusion fluorouracil (5FU) with every-3-week epirubicin and cisplatin (ECF) as primary chemotherapy instead of immediate mastectomy for patients with large, potentially operable, breast cancer.


Fifty patients with large operable breast cancer, median tumor diameter 6 cm (range, 3 to 12), were treated with 5FU 200 mg/m2/d via a Hickman line using an ambulatory pump for 6 months with epirubicin 50 mg/m2 intravenously (IV) and cisplatin 60 mg/m2 IV every 3 weeks for eight courses. Subsequent surgery and/or radiotherapy was determined by clinical response.


Forty-nine patients achieved an overall response (98%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 94% to 100%), including 33 complete clinical remissions (CRs) (66%; 95% CI, 53% to 79%). Only three patients (6%) still required mastectomy. Tumor cellularity was markedly reduced on repeat needle biopsy following 3 weeks of treatment in 81% of patients versus only 36% in similar patients after conventional chemotherapy (P < .002). Severe (World Health Organization [WHO] grade 3 to 4) toxicity was rare, with nausea/vomiting being the most common, occurring in 20% of patients.


Primary infusional ECF appears to be more active on clinical and histopathologic grounds than conventional chemotherapy for large operable breast cancer and is well tolerated. This approach now merits randomized comparison to determine if high CR rates may translate into improved survival.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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