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PLoS One. 2011;6(11):e26946. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0026946. Epub 2011 Nov 1.

Adjuvant chemotherapy, with or without taxanes, in early or operable breast cancer: a meta-analysis of 19 randomized trials with 30698 patients.

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Department of Health Statistics, Second Military Medical University, Shanghai, China.



Taxanes have been extensively used as adjuvant chemotherapy for the treatment of early or operable breast cancer, particularly in high risk, node-negative breast cancer. Previous studies, however, have reported inconsistent findings regarding their clinical efficacy and safety. We investigated disease-free survival (DFS), overall survival (OS), and drug-related toxicities of taxanes by a systematic review and meta-analysis.


We systematically searched PubMed, EMBASE, the Cochrane Center Register of Controlled Trials, proceedings of major meetings, and reference lists of articles for studies conducted between January 1980 and April 2011. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing chemotherapy with and without taxanes in the treatment of patients with early-stage or operable breast cancer were eligible for inclusion in our analysis. The primary endpoint was DFS. Nineteen RCTs including 30698 patients were identified, including 8426 recurrence events and 3803 deaths. Taxanes administration yielded a 17% reduction of hazard ratio (HR) for DFS (HR = 0.83, 95% CI 0.79-0.88, p<0.001) and a 17% reduction of HR for OS (HR = 0.83, 95% CI 0.77-0.90, p<0.001). For high risk, node-negative breast cancer, the pooled HR also favoured the taxane-based treatment arm over the taxane-free treatment arm (HR = 0.82, 95% CI 0.77-0.87, p = 0.022). A significantly increased rate of neutropenia, febrile neutropenia, fatigue, diarrhea, stomatitis, and oedema was observed in the taxane-based treatment arm.


Adjuvant chemotherapy with taxanes could reduce the risk of cancer recurrence and death in patients with early or operable breast cancer, although the drug-related toxicities should be balanced. Furthermore, we also demonstrated that patients with high risk, node-negative breast cancer also benefited from taxanes therapy, a result that was not observed in previous studies.

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