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The chemotherapy combination consisting of doxorubicin and paclitaxel represents an effective treatment option for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer, according to a recent study published in the

Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Metastatic breast cancer refers to cancer that has spread outside the breast to distant locations in the body. Chemotherapy remains an important treatment component for this group of patients. However, the prognosis for patients with metastatic breast cancer is poor, which has prompted the initiation of many clinical studies evaluating different chemotherapy combinations in order to determine superior regimens.

Previous clinical studies have demonstrated that the chemotherapy agents doxorubicin and paclitaxel are associated with high anti-cancer activity in breast cancer patients. However, historically the combination of these two agents has caused severe cardiac (heart) toxicity. Researchers have been evaluating different treatment dosages and scheduling involving these two agents in order to obtain optimal benefit while reducing side effects.

A recent clinical trial evaluated the use of doxorubicin and paclitaxel in patients with metastatic breast cancer. Patients received either doxorubicin plus paclitaxel (AT) or a common chemotherapy combination consisting of fluorouracil, doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide (FAC). The results of the two groups were then directly compared. The overall time of disease-free survival was 8.3 months for patients receiving AT versus 6.2 months for patients receiving FAC. Overall survival time was 23.3 months for patients receiving AT versus 18.3 months for patients receiving FAC. Importantly, the risk of cardiac toxicity for patients receiving AT was low, with no difference reported between the two regimen groups. Patients receiving AT were administered doxorubicin and paclitaxel 24 hours apart.

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These results suggest that the combination of AT appears superior to FAC in terms of disease-free and overall survival for patients with metastatic breast cancer. In addition, AT was well-tolerated with low rates reported of cardiac toxicity. This trial is important as it supports another effective option for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer. Patients with this disease may wish to speak with their physician about the risks and benefits of receiving AT or the participation in a clinical trial evaluating novel therapeutic approaches. Two sources of information about ongoing clinical trials include comprehensive, easy-to-use listing services provided by the National Cancer Institute ( and also provides personalized clinical trial searches on behalf of patients. (

Journal of Clinical Oncology, Vol 19, No 6, pp 1707-1715, 2001)

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