Background: Neoadjuvant anti-tumor activity of an alternating taxane- and anthracycline-based dose-dense regimen in patients with operable, noninflammatory large breast cancer was investigated.
Objective: The objective is to study the rate of pathological complete response in patients with breast cancer receiving dose-dense chemotherapy sequentially with gemcitabine plus docetaxel and vinorelbine plus epirubicin.
Methods: Women (n = 74) with clinical stage II or III breast cancer were enrolled in this open-label, multicenter study to receive six 2-weekly courses of gemcitabine 1000 mg/m2 plus docetaxel 75 mg/m2 on days 1 and 15, and vinorelbine 25 mg/m2 plus epirubicin 100mg/m2 on days 29 and 43. Patients with an objective response on day 56 then received another cycle of gemcitabine/ docetaxel on day 57 and of vinorelbine/epirubicin on day 71. Conservative surgery was scheduled for all patients.
Results: Of the patients enrolled, 30% had triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). The pathologic complete response (pCR) rate was 22% overall, but was higher in TNBC than patients without TNBC (40.9% vs 14.0%; p=0.028). Among patients with a pCR, patients with TNBC had similar recurrence-free survival (RFS) and overall survival (OS) to patients without TNBC. Among those without a pCR, RFS rates for patients with TNBC were significantly lower than for patients without TNBC (p=0.04). The most common severe hematologic toxicity was neutropenia.
Conclusions: Administering four drugs in a dose-dense alternating sequence gave a high pCR in patients with operable, invasive breast cancer. Patients with TNBC with a pCR had similar OS to patients without TNBC, whereas patients with TNBC without a pCR had poorer survival rate than their non- TNBC counterparts.