According to an article recently published in the journal Cancer, 10-year results including women with inflammatory breast cancer treated with a high-dose chemotherapy regimen of fluorouracil (5-FU), Ellence® (epirubicin), and Cytoxan® (cyclophosphamide) (FEC-HD) with or without Granocyte® (lenograstim) have been reported.
Inflammatory breast cancer is an uncommon type of breast cancer. It makes up only 1–4% of all breast cancers. It is very aggressive, and survival is relatively poor compared to other forms of breast cancer. Thus, large clinical trials and long-term results including women with this disease are unusual. There are few, if any, studies focusing on inflammatory breast cancer that have a ten-year follow-up.
Inflammatory breast cancer is usually treated with induction therapy followed by surgery. Patients who have a pathologic complete response (pCR)-complete disappearance of detectable cancer cells prior to surgery-have an improved survival. This has encouraged attempts to improve the pCR rate by intensifying induction therapy, including the use of high-dose chemotherapy.
Researchers from France recently reported results from a trial that evaluated high-dose 5-FU/Ellence/Cytoxan (FEC-HD) in the treatment of 120 women with inflammatory breast cancer that had not spread to distant sites in the body. Treatment also consisted of surgery and/or radiation therapy, along with maintenance therapy with conventional-dose FEC (5-FU/Ellence/Cytoxan).
- At 10 years follow-up, cancer-free survival was nearly 36%.
- At 10 years follow-up, overall survival was 41.2%.
- 5% of patients developed a subsequent cancer that was not breast cancer.
The researchers concluded that FEC-HD provides at least as good results as other treatment regimens studied for inflammatory breast cancer. These data are important in providing a reference for future studies including taxanes, Herceptin® (trastuzumab), or other newer active agents in the treatment of breast cancer.
Patients diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer may wish to speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of participation in a clinical trial evaluating novel therapeutic approaches. Two sources of information regarding ongoing clinical trials include the National Cancer Institute (www.cancer.gov) and www.eCancerTrials.com.
Reference: Veyret C, Levy C, Chollet P, et al. Inflammatory breast cancer outcome with epirubicin-based induction and maintenance chemotherapy. Ten year results from the French Adjuvant Study Group GETIS 02 Trial. Cancer. 2006; published online in advance of print on October 19, 2006.