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High-dose chemotherapy and hematopoietic stem cell rescue for breast cancer: experience in California.

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  • 1School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco 94143-0324, USA.


The role of high-dose chemotherapy (HDCT) and autologous hematopoietic stem cell rescue in breast cancer is still controversial. We analyzed the outcomes of 1111 consecutive patients with histologically proven breast cancer who underwent HDCT at 5 major California medical centers. The overall treatment-related mortality (TRM) was 2.3%. TRM was not influenced by disease stage or the HDCT regimen delivered, but it was influenced by hematopoietic graft source. The TRM was 6.1% when bone marrow with or without blood stem cells was used, but only 1.4% when blood stem cells alone were used (P < .001). With a median follow-up of 2.8 years (range, 0.1-8.2 years) after HDCT and autologous hematopoietic stem cell rescue, the estimated 5-year event-free survival (EFS) and overall survival (OS) for stage II/IIIA patients with > or =10 involved axillary lymph nodes were 67% and 76%, respectively. Patients with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) (median follow-up, 1.9 years [range, 0.03-8.3 years]) achieving a complete response (CR) to conventional-dose chemotherapy or rendered to a "no evidence of disease" status before HDCT had significantly better estimated 5-year EFS and OS (28% and 57%, respectively) than those achieving a partial response before HDCT (19% and 27%, respectively; P < or = .0001). Our data suggest that HDCT with hematopoietic stem cell rescue is safe and can be beneficial to patients with high-risk primary breast cancer and for those with MBC achieving CR/no evidence of disease.

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