According to results recently presented at the 2003 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, long-term follow-up of nearly 5 years indicates that the chemotherapy combination TAC (Taxotere®, Adriamycin®, cyclophosphamide) results in continued improvements in cancer-free and overall survival compared to FAC (5-fluorouracil, Adriamycin®, cyclophosphamide) in early breast cancer.

Approximately 200,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer annually in the United States alone. Long-term survival is high among patients whose cancer has not spread from its site of origin. The further from the site of origin the cancer spreads, the worse survival rates become. Breast cancer is still considered early cancer if it has only spread to lymph nodes under the arms (axillary). Patients who have cancer spread to the axillary nodes (node positive) are most often offered chemotherapy as a component of their treatment regimen. Researchers have been comparing different chemotherapy agents and combinations and evaluating novel agents to improve survival in this group of patients.

Researchers conducted a clinical trial directly comparing the chemotherapy regimens TAC and FAC in the treatment of nearly 1,500 patients with node-positive breast cancer. Historically, FAC was a commonly used chemotherapy regimen. More recently, Taxotere®-based regimens have demonstrated significant anti-cancer activity in the treatment of breast cancer. An analysis of results of this trial at nearly 3 years following therapy indicated that TAC was superior to FAC in regards to cancer-free survival. A recent analysis of results of this trial at 55 months following therapy has recently been completed to determine long-term outcomes between these 2 regimens. Cancer-free survival rates for patients at 4 and 5 years following therapy were 80% and 75%, respectively for those treated with TAC, compared to 71% and 68% for those treated with FAC. Overall survival rates at approximately 4 and 5 years following therapy were 89% and 87%, respectively for those treated with TAC, and 85% and 81%, respectively for those treated with FAC.

The researchers concluded that the chemotherapy regimen TAC improves long-term cancer-free and overall survival compared to FAC in the treatment of node-positive breast cancer. From these and other results, the chemotherapy regimen TAC appears to be one of the most active regimens in the treatment of breast cancer. Patients with breast cancer who are to receive chemotherapy may wish to speak with their physician about the risks and benefits of treatment with TAC.

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Reference: Mackey J, Martin M, Pienkowski T, et al. TAC improves disease free survival and overall survival over FAC in node positive early breast cancer patients, BCIRG 001: 55 months follow-up. Proceedings from the 26th annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. December 2003. Abstract # 43.

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