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Clin Cancer Res. 1995 Jul;1(7):715-21.

Adjuvant treatment of high-risk breast cancer using multicycle high-dose chemotherapy and filgrastim-mobilized peripheral blood progenitor cells.

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Centre for Developmental Therapeutics-affiliates: Melbourne Tumor Biology Branch, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Department of Medical Oncology,Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia.


Women with primary breast cancer associated with extensive axillary node involvement or large primary tumors have a very poor prognosis despite treatment with standard-dose adjuvant chemotherapy. In an attempt to improve the outlook of these patients, we investigated the safety and feasibility of delivering three cycles of high-dose epirubicin and cyclophosphamide supported with filgrastim-mobilized peripheral blood progenitor cells (PBPC). Fifteen previously untreated women, median age 50 (range, 30-58) years, with poor prognosis early stage breast cancer received filgrastim (12 microgram/kg daily for 6 days) prior to chemotherapy to mobilize progenitor cells. Patients were then given three cycles of epirubicin (200 mg/m2) and cyclophosphamide (4 g/m2) at planned 28-day intervals, each followed by infusion of one third of the PBPC collected and daily administration of filgrastim (5 microgram/kg s.c.). Three leukaphereses collected a median of 114.9 (range, 22.7-273.5) x 10(4) granulocyte-macrophage-colony-forming cells/kg body weight. Hemopoietic recovery was rapid after each cycle, and there was no correlation between the rate of recovery and the number of granulocyte-macrophage-colony-forming cells infused. There was a small but significant progressive delay in recovery from hematological and nonhematological toxicities across the three cycles. Left ventricular ejection fraction fell to below 50% in eight (53%) patients, but none developed congestive cardiac failure. Two patients did not complete three cycles because of insufficient PBPC for a third cycle (n = 1) and 2-mercaptoethane sodium sulfonate- related drug reaction during the second cycle (n = 1). There were no deaths during the study or during the follow-up period (median, 70 weeks; range, 50-85 weeks), and no late toxicities occurred. Therefore, we concluded that the delivery of multiple cycles of nonmyeloablative, dose-intensive chemotherapy supported by PBPC and filgrastim is safe, and may be widely applicable to a variety of common chemosensitive cancers with a poor prognosis. The efficacy of three cycles of high-dose epirubicin and cyclophosphamide is to be compared with standard-dose chemotherapy in a randomized trial in patients with high-risk, operable stage II and III breast cancer.

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