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According to an article recently published in the Annals of Oncology, longer follow-up results indicate that the chemotherapy agent Taxotere® (docetaxel) remains superior to the chemotherapy agent Taxol® (paclitaxel) in the treatment of metastatic breast cancer among patients who have received prior therapy with anthracycline chemotherapy agents.

Metastatic breast cancer refers to cancer that has spread from the breast to distant sites in the body. Treatment for metastatic breast cancer is typically aimed at extending survival and/or improving quality of life. Chemotherapy remains an important component in the treatment of metastatic breast cancer; anthracyclines and taxanes are types of chemotherapy commonly used.

Chemotherapy agents Taxotere and Taxol are both taxanes. Taxol has been used extensively in the treatment of breast cancer; Taxotere is a newer chemotherapy agent that kills cancer cells in a similar manner.

Researchers from Canada conducted a clinical trial to compare Taxotere to Taxol in the treatment of patients with metastatic breast cancer. This trial included 435 patients who had received prior treatment with anthracyclines but not with taxanes. Earlier results from this trial indicated that Taxotere appears superior to Taxol. Further results from longer follow-up of this trial are as follows:

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  • Median overall survival was nearly 11 months for patients treated with Taxotere, compared with 8.3 months for those treated with Taxol.
  • The incremental cost per month of median survival was $2,434.00.
  • The group of patients treated with Taxotere received more cycles of chemotherapy than the group treated with Taxol.

The researchers concluded that long-term results continue to indicate that Taxotere improves survival compared with Taxol in the treatment of patients with metastatic breast cancer who have received prior therapy with anthracyclines. Patients with metastatic breast cancer may wish to speak with their physician about their individual risks and benefits of treatment with Taxotere.

Reference: Vu T, Ellard S, Speers CH, et al. Survival outcome and cost-effectiveness with docetaxel and paclitaxel in patients with metastatic breast cancer: a population-based evaluation. Annals of Oncology[early online publication]. November 15; 2007.

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