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Ann Oncol. 2011 Sep;22(9):1999-2006. doi: 10.1093/annonc/mdq713. Epub 2011 Mar 7.

PREPARE trial: a randomized phase III trial comparing preoperative, dose-dense, dose-intensified chemotherapy with epirubicin, paclitaxel, and CMF versus a standard-dosed epirubicin-cyclophosphamide followed by paclitaxel with or without darbepoetin alfa in primary breast cancer--outcome on prognosis.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Helios Klinikum Berlin-Buch, Berlin.



The objective of this study was to compare the effect of dose-intensified neoadjuvant chemotherapy with that of standard epirubicin plus cyclophosphamide followed by paclitaxel in combination with or without darbepoetin on survival in primary breast cancer.


A total of 733 patients received either four cycles of neoadjuvant epirubicin 90 mg/m(2) plus cyclophosphamide 600 mg/m(2) every 3 weeks followed by four cycles of paclitaxel 175 mg/m(2) every 3 weeks (EC→T), or three cycles of epirubicin 150 mg/m(2) every 2 weeks followed by three cycles of paclitaxel 225 mg/m(2) every 2 weeks followed by three cycles of combination chemotherapy with cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, and fluorouracil (E(dd)→T(dd)→CMF). The patients were randomly assigned to receive darbepoetin or none. The primary objective was to demonstrate a superior disease-free survival (DFS) of E(dd)→T(dd)→CMF compared with EC→T.


Estimated 3-year DFS was 75.8% with EC→T versus 78.8% with E(dd)→T(dd)→CMF [hazard ratio (HR) 1.14; P = 0.37] and overall survival (OS) 88.4% versus 91.5% (HR 1.26; P = 0.237). Three-year DFS was 74.3% with darbepoetin versus 80.0% without (HR 1.31; P = 0.061) and OS 88.0% versus 91.8% (HR 1.33; P = 0.139). Patients with a pathologically documented complete response [pathological complete response (pCR)] had a significantly better DFS compared with those without achieving a pCR (estimated 3-year DFS: 89.2% versus 74.9%; HR 2.27; P = 0.001).


Neoadjuvant dose-intensified chemotherapy compared with standard chemotherapy did not improve DFS, whereas the addition of darbepoetin might have detrimental effects on DFS.

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