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According to results presented at the 2007 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the addition of the targeted agent axitinib to Taxotere® (docetaxel) appears to improve outcomes compared to Taxotere alone in the treatment of metastatic breast cancer.

Metastatic breast cancer refers to breast cancer that has spread from the breast to distant sites in the body. Treatment options for metastatic breast cancer typically include chemotherapy, including the agent Taxotere. However, newer therapies are beginning to focus more on targeted agents, which aim their killing effects more directly at cancer cells while sparing healthy tissue from undesired side effects.

Axitinib is an investigative agent that is targeted against the blood supply to a tumor and disrupts blood vessels that grow and provide nutrients to cancer cells. Without the nutrients and oxygen supplied by blood vessels, cancer cells cannot replicate and grow.

Researchers recently conducted a multicenter trial to evaluate axitinib in the treatment of metastatic breast cancer. Patients in this trial were treated with either axitinib plus the chemotherapy agent Taxotere or with Taxotere alone.

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  • Anticancer responses were achieved in 40% of patients treated with the addition of axitinib to Taxotere, compared with only 23% of patients treated with Taxotere alone.
  • Median time to cancer progression was 8.2 months for patients treated with axitinib/Taxotere, compared with seven months for those treated with Taxotere alone.
  • Patients treated with the addition axitinib experienced increased side effects, including low levels of immune cells, fatigue, mouth sores, and high blood pressure

The researchers concluded that the addition of axitinib to Taxotere improves anticancer responses and delays cancer progression compared to Taxotere alone in the treatment of metastatic breast cancer. Patients with metastatic breast cancer may wish to speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of participating in a clinical trial further evaluating axitinib or other promising therapeutic agents. Two sources of information regarding ongoing clinical trials include the National Cancer Institute ( and

Reference: Rugo HS, Stopeck A, Joy AA, et al. A randomized, double-blind Phase II study of the oral tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) axitinib (AG-013736) in combination with docetaxel (DOC) compared to DOC plus placebo (PL) in metastatic breast cancer (MBC). Proceedings from the American Society of Clinical Oncology Conference. Chicago,IL. 2007. Abstract # 1003.

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