Home About us Editorial board Ahead of print Current issue Search Archives Submit article Instructions Subscribe Contacts Login 

 Table of Contents  
Year : 2011  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 412-415

Toxicities, dose reduction and delay of docetaxel and paclitaxel chemotherapy in breast cancer without distant metastases

1 Department of Surgery, Guro Hospital, Korea University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
2 Department of Internal Medicine, Guro Hospital, Korea University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
3 Department of Surgery, Ansan Hospital, Korea University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
4 Department of Surgery, Anam Hospital, Korea University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea

Date of Web Publication19-Jan-2012

Correspondence Address:
Sang Uk Woo
Department of Surgery, Korea University College of Medicine, Guro Hospital, 97 Guro-dong gil, Guro-gu, Seoul
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0973-1482.92004

Rights and Permissions
 > Abstract 

Background: Docetaxel and paclitaxel are likely to have different toxicity profiles, dose reduction and delays despite their similar medical results in breast cancer patients.
Aims: This study examined retrospectively the incidence and severity of certain toxicities, dose reduction and delay of two taxanes.
Materials and Methods: From January 2009 to June 2010, the incidence and severity of toxicities as well as the dose reduction, dose delay, granulocyte colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) in 54 patients with operable lymph node-positive (tumor stage T1, T2, or T3 and nodal stage N1 or N2) and high risk, node-negative (T2 or T3, N0) breast cancer without a distant metastases who received adjuvant chemotherapy - adriamycin, cyclophosphamide, docetaxel (TAC) and adriamycin, cyclophosphamide, paclitaxel (ACP)- were evaluated.
Statistical Analysis Used: Mann-Whitney test and Fisher's exact test.
Results and Conclusion: The patients in the ACP group experienced more frequent peripheral neuropathy (P=0.025), nausea (P=0.033) than those in the TAC group. Febrile neutropenia was significant in TAC (P=0.001). Increasing age was associated with an increased risk of anemia (P=0.004), fatigue (P=0.009) and pain (P=0.003), and a decreasing body mass index was associated with an increased risk of febrile neutropenia (P=0.009). Dose reduction and delay occurred due to febrile neutropenia and an increase in aspartate aminotransferase (AST)/alanine aminotransferase (ALT). The dose reduction was only significant in the TAC group (P= 0.001). A taxane-based regimen should be chosen for breast cancer patients based on the pharmacokinetics, dosing schedule, clinical activity and toxicity profile that best meet the patient's therapeutic needs and quality of life.

Keywords: Dose delay, dose reduction, docetaxel, febrile neutropenia, paclitaxel, peripheral neuropathy, toxicity

How to cite this article:
Kim WY, Woo SU, Seo JH, Son GS, Lee JB, Bae JW. Toxicities, dose reduction and delay of docetaxel and paclitaxel chemotherapy in breast cancer without distant metastases. J Can Res Ther 2011;7:412-5

How to cite this URL:
Kim WY, Woo SU, Seo JH, Son GS, Lee JB, Bae JW. Toxicities, dose reduction and delay of docetaxel and paclitaxel chemotherapy in breast cancer without distant metastases. J Can Res Ther [serial online] 2011 [cited 2022 Jan 26];7:412-5. Available from: https://www.cancerjournal.net/text.asp?2011/7/4/412/92004

 > Introduction Top

Taxanes are some of the most active agents against breast cancer. Positive outcomes with taxanes in breast cancer chemotherapy have been reported in an adjuvant setting. Until the 1990s, anthracyclines were considered to be the most active agents and were used in both adjuvant and metastatic settings. Both anthracyclines-taxanes combinations were shown to improve response rates and progression-free survival (PFS) significantly compared to treatment without taxane. [1],[2],[3] Both anthracyclines-taxanes combinations yield similar results in terms of the overall survival(OS) and progression-free survival (PFS) in metastatic breast cancer. [4],[5] Nevertheless, they are likely to have different toxicity profiles, such as peripheral neuropathy, neutropenia, neutropenic fever, etc. The current evaluation was carried out to evaluate retrospectively the incidence and severity of certain toxicities and dose reduction, delay, G-CSF use of two taxanes (docetaxel, paclitaxel) in clinical practice at a single institution multidisciplinary breast center.

 > Materials and Methods Top

From January 2009 to June 2010 in a single institution multidisciplinary breast center, this study enrolled 54 patients with lymph node-positive (tumor stage T1, T2, or T3 and nodal stage N1 or N2) and high risk, node-negative (T2 or T3, N0) breast cancer without distant metastases, who received adjuvant chemotherapy. Thirty five patients received adrimycin, cyclophosphamide (60/600 mg/m 2 ) for four cycles followed by paclitaxel (Genexol® ; Samyang, Seoul, Korea) (175 mg/m 2 ) and 19 received adrimycin, cyclophosphamide, docetaxel (Taxotere® ; Aventis Pharma S.A, France) (60/600/100mg/m 2 ) for six cycles in every three weeks. The decision to administer paclitaxel or docetaxel was based on the drug availability, age, body mass index (BMI), etc. Before each cycle, toxicity assessment, physical examination, complete blood counts and biochemical profile, dose reduction, delay in previous cycles and G-CSF use were evaluated. A dose reduction by one dose level was performed in any case with the following dose-limiting toxicities: absolute neutrophil count (ANC) < 0.5 × 10 9 /L for >7 days, ANC < 0.1 × 10 9 /L for >3 days, grade 3 or 4 thrombocytopenia for >7 days, increase of transaminase by ≥50%, severe (grade 3 or 4) mucositis, neuropathy, myalgia or arthralgia not responding to symptomatic treatment. A dose delay was performed in cases with infectious diseases, delayed recovery from infection or febrile neutropenia. The toxic effects were graded according to the National Cancer Institute Common Toxicity Criteria, version 3.0 Characteristics. Informed consent was obtained for all patients. Toxicities, dose reduction and delay, G-CSF use between the two groups were compared using Mann-Whitney test and Fisher's exact test. A P value < 0.05 was considered as significant.

 > Results Top

[Table 1] and [Table 2] list the details of the patients' demographics, tumor characteristics and hormone receptor, Her-2/neu expression, respectively. A total of 114 cycles and 280 cycles were administered to the patients in the TAC and ACP group, respectively. No patient refused to continue chemotherapy due to intolerance to the chemotherapy. Overall, the mean age and BMI was 48.6 (range from 30 to 74) and 23.9 (range from 18.3 to 32.4), respectively. Increasing age was associated with an increased risk of anemia (P=0.004), fatigue (P=0.009) and pain (P=0.003), and a decreasing BMI was associated with an increased risk of febrile neutropenia (P=0.009) (data not shown). The mean age of the patients in the TAC and ACP group were 40.1±5.8 (range from 30 to 53) and 54.4±8.5 (range from 37 to 74), respectively (P<0.001). The mean BMI of the two groups were 22.4±2.8 and 24.7±3.1, respectively (P=0.009). The histologic grade (P=0.023), nuclear grade (P=0.045) and hormonal receptor (ER/PR) (P=0.011) of the two groups were significantly different.
Table 1: Patient demographics and tumors characteristics

Click here to view
Table 2: Hormone receptor and Her-2/neu expression

Click here to view

[Table 3] lists the incidence and severity of toxicity by treatment protocol. For non-hematologic toxicity, patients in the TAC group experienced alopecia more frequently than those in the ACP group. Patients in the ACP group experienced peripheral neuropathy (P=0.025) (excluding grade 0/1), nausea (P=0.033) (all grades) more frequently than those in TAC. One patient in the ACP group had transient, reversible renal function impairment. In the hematologic toxicity, grade 2/3/4 neutropenia was more common in the TAC group (n=18, 94.7%) but this was not significant. Febrile neutropenia occurred in 11 (57.9%) and five (14.3%) patients in the TAC and ACP group, respectively (P=0.001). G-CSF use was performed on 24(68.6%) and 18(94.7%) patients in the ACP and TAC group, respectively (P<0.001) [Table 4]. On the other hand, anemia was not significantly more common in the TAC group. Two and four patients in the TAC and ACP group, respectively, experienced grade 2/3/4 thrombocytopenia. Dose reduction (one level dose) was performed in 6(17.1%) and 12(63.2%) patients in the ACP and TAC group, respectively (P=0.001)[Table 4]. Dose delay was performed in five (14.3%) and two (10.5%) patients in the ACP and TAC group, respectively. Among them, four patients had a dose delay due to an increase in the transaminase level and each of the others had dose delay due to influenza, delayed recovery from febrile neutropenia and knee cellulitis respectively. A dose reduction only was significant (P= 0.001).
Table 3: Toxicities that occurred or worsened during treatment

Click here to view
Table 4: Dose reduction, delay and G-CSF use

Click here to view

 > Discussion Top

The decision to offer chemotherapy to patients with breast cancer is difficult and chemotherapy- related toxicity must be considered carefully. The ECOG 1199 trial evaluated both taxanes (docetaxel and paclitaxel) and examined the optimal administration route for improved clinical efficacy. [5] After a median follow-up of 63.8 months, there were no significant differences in the hazard ratios of the disease-free survival when comparing the two taxanes (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.02, P = 0.73) or two schedules (weekly versus in every three weeks)(HR = 1.07, P = 0.3). [5] Although taxanes in clinical practice prolong remission and improve survival, they are also associated with a significant occurrence of toxicity. [6] In several trials including ECOG 1199, in addition to neutropenia, other toxicities that occurred more frequently in docetaxel than paclitaxel included thrombocytopenia, anemia, need for blood transfusions, mucositis, nail disorders, skin toxicity, chemotherapy-related amenorrhea, asthenia, edema and infection. [2],[5],[7],[8] In trials of taxanes-containing regimens, the most common serious toxicity was myelosuppression. Grade 4 neutropenia develops in 85-100% of patients and febrile neutropenia occurs in 30-40% of patients at some time during treatment. [9],[10] According to the guidelines developed by organizations, such as the American Society of Clinical Oncology, [11] the incidence of febrile neutropenia suggests that the use of hematopoietic growth factors should be considered. The present study also used prophylactic G-CSF in both regimens if grade 4 neutropenia or febrile neutropenia were encountered. Docetaxel was associated with less nausea and vomiting. Paclitaxel was associated with more peripheral neuropathy and hypersensitivity reactions. [8] The primary target of taxanes-induced peripheral neuropathy (TIPN) is controversial. Studies in preclinical models demonstrated that the administration of paclitaxel resulted in the accumulation of microtubules in Schwann cells and axons of the sciatic nerve. The main occurrence of distal loss of sensation in the large fibers would suggest that a "dying back" process starting from the distal nerve endings followed by effects on Schwann cells, neuronal body or disturbed axonal transport changes in the affected neurons is the mechanism of TIPN. [12] The incidence and severity of TIPN in paclitaxel is higher than that in docetaxel. [13] For the symptomatic management of TIPN, amitriptyline, glutamine, low-dose oral prednisone and gabapentin have been used with some measure of success for reducing pain, myalgia and arthralgia. [12]

Neutropenic events are associated with higher age, higher body surface area, lower body mass index, regimen type, and more planned chemotherapy cycles. [14] Overweight patients are less likely to experience cycle delays due to prolonged myelosuppression, particularly toward the end of the treatment course. Overall, obese patients are in fact less likely to suffer hematologic toxicity. Healthy older patients without comorbidity had a higher rate of hematologic toxicity than younger patients, but no increase in nonhematologic toxicity. [15],[16] Elderly patients treated with newer adjuvant chemotherapy regimens derive the same benefits from newer chemotherapy regimens as younger patients but should be cautioned about the increased risk of toxicity and treatment-related death. [16] Consistent with the two trials, in the present study, increasing age was associated with an increased risk of anemia (P=0.004), fatigue (P=0.009) and pain (P=0.003), and a decreasing BMI was associated with an increased risk of febrile neutropenia (P=0.009) (data not shown).

In one meta-analysis, significant dose reductions and delays are common clinical practice in the management of patients with primary breast cancer. An even more alarming picture might be observed in patients with metastatic breast cancer, where dose delays and reductions are common methods of reducing the toxicity and maintaining the quality of life. [17] Dose reduction and delay have no negative influence in the short run but the overall survival was better in patients with fewer dose reductions and delays. On the other hand, this study did not evaluate the impact of dose reduction and delay on the short and long-term outcome due to the short follow-up.

In conclusion, there were two significant differences in toxicity, febrile neutropenia and peripheral neuropathy, between the two taxanes. Dose reduction and G-CSF use were performed more frequently in the TAC group than the ACP group. A taxane-based regimen should be chosen for patients with advanced breast cancer based on the pharmacokinetics, dosing schedule, clinical activity and toxicity profile that best meet the patient's therapeutic needs and quality of life. Moreover, a dose reduction and delay should only be undertaken for important reasons, such as unacceptable toxicity impairing the quality of life.

 > References Top

1.Mamounas EP, Bryant J, Lembersky B, Fehrenbacher L, Sedlacek SM, Fisher B, et al. Paclitaxel after doxorubicin plus cyclophosphamide as adjuvant chemotherapy for node-positive breast cancer: Results from NSABP B-28. J Clin Oncol 2005;23:3686-96.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Martin M, Pienkowski T, Mackey J, Pawlicki M, Guastalla JP, Weaver C, et al. Adjuvant docetaxel for node-positive breast cancer. N Engl J Med 2005;352:2302-13.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Jones SE, Savin MA, Holmes FA, O'Shaughnessy JA, Blum JL, Vukelja S, et al. Phase III trial comparing doxorubicin plus cyclophosphamide with docetaxel plus cyclophosphamide as adjuvant therapy for operable breast cancer. J Clin Oncol 2006;24:5381-7.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Cassier PA, Chabaud S, Trillet-Lenoir V, Peaud PY, Tigaud JD, Cure H, et al. A phase-III trial of doxorubicin and docetaxel versus doxorubicin and paclitaxel in metastatic breast cancer: Results of the ERASME 3 study. Breast Cancer Res Treat 2008;109:343-50.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Sparano JA, Wang M, Martino S, Jones V, Perez EA, Saphner T, et al. Weekly paclitaxel in the adjuvant treatment of breast cancer. N Engl J Med 2008;358:1663-71.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Antoine JC, Camdessanche JP. Peripheral nervous system involvement in patients with cancer. Lancet Neurol 2007;6:75-86.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Brain EG, Bachelot T, Serin D, Kirscher S, Graic Y, Eymard JC, et al. Life-threatening sepsis associated with adjuvant doxorubicin plus docetaxel for intermediate-risk breast cancer. JAMA 2005;293:2367-71.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Fountzilas G, Skarlos D, Dafni U, Gogas H, Briasoulis E, Pectasides D, et al. Postoperative dose-dense sequential chemotherapy with epirubicin, followed by CMF with or without paclitaxel, in patients with high-risk operable breast cancer: A randomized phase III study conducted by the Hellenic Cooperative Oncology Group. Ann Oncol 2005;16:1762-71.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.Misset JL, Dieras V, Gruia G, Bourgeois H, Cvitkovic E, Kalla S, et al. Dose-finding study of docetaxel and doxorubicin in first-line treatment of patients with metastatic breast cancer. Ann Oncol 1999;10:553-60.  Back to cited text no. 9
10.Nabholtz JM, Mackey JR, Smylie M, Paterson A, Noel DR, Al-Tweigeri T, et al. Phase II study of docetaxel, doxorubicin, and cyclophosphamide as first-line chemotherapy for metastatic breast cancer. J Clin Oncol 2001;19:314-21.  Back to cited text no. 10
11.Ozer H, Armitage JO, Bennett CL, Crawford J, Demetri GD, Pizzo PA, et al. 2000 update of recommendations for the use of hematopoietic colony-stimulating fTACors: Evidence-based, clinical prTACice guidelines. American Society of Clinical Oncology Growth FTACors Expert Panel. J Clin Oncol 2000;18:3558-85.  Back to cited text no. 11
12.Argyriou AA, Koltzenburg M, Polychronopoulos P, Papapetropoulos S, Kalofonos HP. Peripheral nerve damage associated with administration of taxanes in patients with cancer. Crit Rev Oncol Hematol 2008;66:218-28.  Back to cited text no. 12
13.Lee JJ, Swain SM. Peripheral neuropathy induced by microtubule-stabilizing agents. J Clin Oncol 2006;24:1633-42.  Back to cited text no. 13
14.Schwenkglenks M, Jackisch C, Constenla M, Kerger JN, Paridaens R, Auerbach L, et al. Neutropenic event risk and impaired chemotherapy delivery in six European audits of breast cancer treatment. Support Care Cancer 2006;14:901-9.  Back to cited text no. 14
15.Jenkins P, Elyan S, Freeman S. Obesity is not associated with increased myelosuppression in patients receiving chemotherapy for breast cancer. Eur J Cancer 2007;43:544-8.  Back to cited text no. 15
16.Muss HB, Berry DA, Cirrincione C, Budman DR, Henderson IC, Citron ML, et al. Toxicity of older and younger patients treated with adjuvant chemotherapy for node-positive breast cancer: The Cancer and Leukemia Group B Experience. J Clin Oncol 2007;25:3699-704.  Back to cited text no. 16
17.Loibl S, Skacel T, Nekljudova V, Luck HJ, Schwenkglenks M, Brodowicz T, et al. Evaluating the impact of Relative Total Dose Intensity (RTDI) on patients' short and long-term outcome in taxane- and anthracycline-based chemotherapy of metastatic breast cancer- a pooled analysis. BMC Cancer 2011;11:131.  Back to cited text no. 17


  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4]

This article has been cited by
1 Toxicity profile of taxanes in Tunisian cancer patients: A retrospective study of 90 cases
Sonia Ben Nasr, Aref Zribi, Mouna Ben Hassen, Yosr Doghri, Ichrak Ben Abdallah, Emna Trigui, Sana Fendri, Jihen Ayari, Mehdi Balti, Abderrazek Haddaoui
Bulletin du Cancer. 2021; 108(3): 266
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
2 Exploring pharmacogenetics of paclitaxel- and docetaxel-induced peripheral neuropathy by evaluating the direct pharmacogenetic-pharmacokinetic and pharmacokinetic-neuropathy relationships
Daniel L Hertz
Expert Opinion on Drug Metabolism & Toxicology. 2021; 17(2): 227
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
3 Vitamin D deficiency increases severity of paclitaxel-induced peripheral neuropathy
Theodore S. Jennaro, Fang Fang, Kelley M. Kidwell, Ellen M. Lavoie Smith, Kiran Vangipuram, Monika L. Burness, Jennifer J. Griggs, Catherine Van Poznak, Daniel F. Hayes, N. Lynn Henry, Daniel L. Hertz
Breast Cancer Research and Treatment. 2020; 180(3): 707
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
4 Patterns of Anthracycline-Based Chemotherapy-Induced Adverse Drug Reactions and Their Impact on Relative Dose Intensity among Women with Breast Cancer in Ethiopia: A Prospective Observational Study
Diriba Alemayehu Gadisa, Mathewos Assefa, Gosaye Mekonen Tefera, Getnet Yimer
Journal of Oncology. 2020; 2020: 1
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
5 Toxicity profile of Doxorubicin-Cyclophosphamide and Doxorubicin-Cyclophosphamide followed by Paclitaxel regimen and its associated factors among women with breast cancer in Ethiopia: A prospective cohort study
Diriba Alemayehu Gadisa, Mathewos Assefa, Shu-Hua Wang, Getnet Yimer
Journal of Oncology Pharmacy Practice. 2020; 26(8): 1912
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
6 Clinical application of the AUC-guided dosage adjustment of docetaxel-based chemotherapy for patients with solid tumours: a single centre, prospective and randomised control study
Ning Sun, Bo Shen, Jiali Zhu, Xiaomei Zhang, Huayun Zhu, Geyu Liang, Deliang Yang, Jianwei Lu, Yan Zhang
Journal of Translational Medicine. 2020; 18(1)
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
7 “Chemotherapy-periodized” Exercise to Accommodate for Cyclical Variation in Fatigue
Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2020; 52(2): 278
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
8 Ultrasound-mediated destruction of oxygen and paclitaxel loaded lipid microbubbles for combination therapy in hypoxic ovarian cancer cells
Jiangchuan Sun, Mingyue Yin, Shenyin Zhu, Li Liu, Yi Zhu, Zhigang Wang, Ronald X. Xu, Shufang Chang
Ultrasonics Sonochemistry. 2016; 28: 319
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
9 Feasibility of two schedules of weekly paclitaxel in HER2-negative early breast cancer in a Brazilian community setting
Iuri A. Santana,Julia Andrade Oliveira,Julianne Maria da Silva Lima,Laura Testa,José Roberto M. Piato,Paulo M. Hoff,Max S. Mano
Breast Cancer. 2014;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
10 A Phase IV Clinical Trial of Patients with Solid Tumors Receiving Lenograstim as Primary Prophylaxis for Chemotherapy-Induced Neutropenia, in a Docetaxel-Based Regimen
Samuel J. Fourie,Alicia McMaster,Rashem Mothilal,Keith I. Maart
Journal of Cancer Research. 2014; 2014: 1
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
11 Non-viral nanocarriers for siRNA delivery in breast cancer
Jing Zhang,Xiang Li,Leaf Huang
Journal of Controlled Release. 2014;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
12 An oncolytic herpes simplex virus vector, G47Δ, synergizes with paclitaxel in the treatment of breast cancer
Zeng, W.-G. and Li, J.-J. and Hu, P. and Lei, L. and Wang, J.-N. and Liu, R.-B.
Oncology Reports. 2013; 29(6): 2355-2361
13 Toxicities of taxanes
Ladislav, S.
Journal of Cancer Research and Therapeutics. 2013; 9(1): 161
14 Decreased body mass index is associated with poor prognosis in patients with multiple myeloma
Sung-Hoon Jung,Deok-Hwan Yang,Jae-Sook Ahn,Seung-Shin Lee,Seo-Yeon Ahn,Yeo-Kyeoung Kim,Hyeoung–Joon Kim,Je-Jung Lee
Annals of Hematology. 2013;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
Access Statistics
Email Alert *
Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)

  >Abstract>Introduction>Materials and Me...>Results>Discussion>Article Tables
  In this article

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded517    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 14    

Recommend this journal