Background: The International Breast Cancer Study Group Trial VIII compared long-term efficacy of endocrine therapy (goserelin), chemotherapy [cyclophosphamide, methotrexate and fluorouracil (CMF)], and chemoendocrine therapy (CMF followed by goserelin) for pre/perimenopausal women with lymph-node-negative breast cancer.
Patients and methods: From 1990 to 1999, 1063 patients were randomized to receive (i) goserelin for 24 months (n = 346), (ii) six courses of ‘classical’ CMF (cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, 5-fluorouracil) chemotherapy (n = 360), or (iii) six courses of CMF plus 18 months goserelin (CMF→ goserelin; n = 357). Tumors were classified as estrogen receptor (ER) negative (19%), ER positive (80%), or ER unknown (1%); 19% of patients were younger than 40. Median follow-up was 12.1 years.
Results: For the ER-positive cohort, sequential therapy provided a statistically significant benefit in disease-free survival (DFS) (12-year DFS = 77%) compared with CMF alone (69%) and goserelin alone (68%) (P = 0.04 for each comparison), due largely to the effect in younger patients. Patients with ER-negative tumors whose treatment included CMF had similar DFS (12-year DFS CMF = 67%; 12-year DFS CMF→ goserelin = 69%) compared with goserelin alone (12-year DFS = 61%, P= NS).
Conclusions: For pre/perimenopausal women with lymph-node-negative ER-positive breast cancer, CMF followed by goserelin improved DFS in comparison with either modality alone. The improvement was the most pronounced in those aged below 40, suggesting an endocrine effect of prolonged CMF-induced amenorrhea.