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Eur J Cancer. 2004 Feb;40(3):352-7.

Weekly paclitaxel as first-line chemotherapy for elderly patients with metastatic breast cancer. A multicentre phase II trial.

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Department of Medical Oncology, Erasmus MC (Rotterdam Cancer Institute)m Groene Hilledijk 301, 3075 EA, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


Paclitaxel is a cytotoxic agent with proven antitumour activity in metastatic breast cancer. Weekly administration of paclitaxel has demonstrated sustained efficacy together with a more favourable toxicity profile (e.g. less myelotoxicity) than the 3-weekly administration. This study evaluates the activity and toxicity of weekly paclitaxel (Taxol(R)) as first-line chemotherapy in elderly patients (>70 years of age) with hormone-refractory metastatic breast cancer. Patients with metastatic breast cancer received 80 mg/m(2) paclitaxel administered weekly on days 1, 8 and 15 of a 28-day cycle. Additional cycles were given until disease progression, or unacceptable toxicity. A dose increase to 90 mg/m(2) was allowed in the absence of toxicity. 26 Patients received a total of 101 cycles (median 4, range 1-11). 22 patients completed at least two cycles (six administrations). In 23 patients who were evaluable for response, there were 10 partial responses (38%), 9 patients with stable disease (35%), while 4 patients had disease progression (15%). The median duration of response was 194 days (>6 months). Overall treatment was relatively well tolerated, but 8 patients (32%) had to prematurely discontinue treatment because of fatigue. Neuropathy >grade 1 was noted only after five or more cycles in 4 patients. Weekly paclitaxel at this dose and schedule is an effective treatment regimen in the elderly patient with metastatic breast cancer, and is feasible, but yields relevant fatigue in a subset of patients.

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