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Although capecitabine added to chemotherapy for breast cancer improves survival rates, side-effects will force some patients to discontinue the treatment, according to trials.
A report by Professor Heikki Joensuu and colleagues at Helsinki University Central Hospital covered 1,500 women with moderate-to-high risk early breast cancer.
They received either three cycles of capecitabine and docetaxel followed by three cycles of cyclophosphamide, epirubicin, and capecitabine (capecitabine group, n=753), or three cycles of docetaxel followed by three cycles of cyclophosphamide, epirubicin, and fluorouracil (control group, n=747).
While survival at three years was better with capecitabine than without, the drug caused more cases of severe diarrhoea and hand-foot syndrome.
The authors reported: “The capecitabine-containing chemotherapy regimen reduced breast cancer recurrence compared with a control schedule of standard agents.
“Our results suggest that integration of capecitabine upfront with potentially synergistic chemotherapeutic agents and into several cycles might be an effective treatment strategy.
“Integration of capecitabine was associated with frequent discontinuation of planned chemotherapy, but most patients could tolerate all six scheduled cycles.”
Copyright Press Association 2009