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PLoS One. 2012;7(3):e32474. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0032474. Epub 2012 Mar 2.

First efficacy results of capecitabine with anthracycline- and taxane-based adjuvant therapy in high-risk early breast cancer: a meta-analysis.

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Department of Oncology, Shanghai Medical College, Fudan University, Shanghai, People's Republic of China.



Capecitabine is effective and indicated for the salvage treatment of metastatic breast cancer. Therefore, it is essential to evaluate the efficacy of capecitabine in the adjuvant setting. There have been two large randomized studies to determine whether patients with high-risk early breast cancer benefit from the addition of capecitabine to standard chemotherapy, but they have yielded inconsistent results. We first undertook a meta-analysis to evaluate the efficacy of the addition of capecitabine over standard treatment.


PubMed, EBSCO, Web of Science, conference proceedings and key trials were searched from 1998 to 2011. The hazard ratio (HR) was used to evaluate the efficacy of a taxane-anthracycline regimen and a taxane-anthracycline-capecitabine regimen in early breast cancer. All of the data from each study use either fixed-effects or random-effects by Stata.


We found significant improvement in the additional capecitabine arm versus control in disease-free survival (DFS) (HR = 0.83, 95% CI: 0.71-0.98, P = 0.027), overall survival (OS) (HR = 0.71, 95% CI: 0.57-0.88, P = 0.002), distant recurrence (HR = 0.79, 95% CI: 0.66-0.94, P = 0.008) and the death from breast cancer only (HR = 0.65, 95% CI: 0.51-0.83, P = 0.001). Meanwhile, the subgroup analysis revealed that capecitabine improved the DFS in triple negative (HR = 0.71, 95% CI: 0.53-0.96, P = 0.028), hormone receptor negative (HR = 0.73, CI: 0.56-0.94, P = 0.017) and HER2 negative (HR = 0.81, CI: 0.67-0.98, P = 0.034) patients.


Due to the synergistic effect of taxane and capecitabine, taxane-anthracycline-capecitabine regimen may effectively improve the efficacy in the adjuvant setting and may be a novel generation of adjuvant chemotherapy regimen. The results of the current meta-analysis support this hypothesis and indicate that taxane-based regimen with capecitabine may be an effective, convenient, and well tolerated regimen in patients with early breast cancer.

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