Neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NC) is standard therapy for patients with locally advanced breast cancer and is increasingly used for early-stage operable disease. The aim of NC is a pathological complete response (pCR) in the breast and axillary lymph nodes, which is the best predictor of improved outcome and prolonged survival. The taxanes docetaxel and paclitaxel are potent agents in breast cancer management, with promising single-agent activity and acceptable tolerability in the neoadjuvant setting. In this review of the taxanes as NC for operable and inoperable breast cancer, we include all fully published Phase II-III studies enrolling ≥30 patients. Current evidence suggests that the sequential administration of taxane- and anthracycline-based therapy may be superior to concomitant administration. Indeed, until the recent Phase III Aberdeen study (n = 162), it was uncertain whether NC could prolong survival. In this study, sequential docetaxel after anthracycline-based NC significantly enhanced the clinical response rate and pathological complete response, and yielded a significant 3-year survival advantage, versus anthracycline-based NC alone. Recently, the Phase III National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP) trial B27 trial (n = 2411) showed that sequential docetaxel after doxorubicin-cyclophosphamide significantly increased both clinical and pathological response rates for operable breast cancer, with the benefit evident in both estrogen receptor-positive and estrogen receptor-negative patients. This apparent superiority of a sequential anthracycline-taxane regimen is limited to docetaxel, with no similar Phase III trials of paclitaxel versus a non-taxane-based comparator having been conducted to date. In conclusion, current evidence supports the inclusion of a taxane in NC schedules for patients with large and locally advanced breast cancer.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research