Paclitaxel and 5-fluorouracil in metastatic breast cancer: The US experience

D. M. Paul, A. M. Garrett, M. Meshad, R. D. DeVore, L. L. Porter, D. H. Johnson

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21 Scopus citations


Paclitaxel (Taxol; Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Princeton, NJ) is an effective drug in the treatment of metastatic breast cancer (MBC). In the salvage setting, 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) and folinic acid have proved to be effective against MBC as well. Recent preclinical data suggest that paclitaxel plus 5-FU has additive cytotoxicity. Given these observations, we initiated a phase II trial in which 38 women with MBC have been treated with a combination of all three drugs. All patients are currently evaluable for toxicity and 34 are evaluable for response. All women had histologically proven and assessable disease. Patients with prior exposure to paclitaxel were ineligible. Patient characteristics include a median age of 51 years (age range, 31 to 73 years) and a median performance status of 1 (range, 0 to 2). Thirty-three patients have received prior chemotherapy, of whom 23 had adjuvant chemotherapy only. Fifty-eight percent of the patients (22 of 38) had received prior doxorubicin or mitoxantrone; four patients had only hormonal therapy. Four patients had bone-only disease, and three patients had lymphangitic spread or cytologically positive pleural effusion as the only evaluable disease. Treatment consisted of paclitaxel 17S mg/m2 over 3 hours (day 1 only), followed by folinic acid 300 mg over 1 hour, followed by 5-FU 350 mg/m2 on days 1 to 3. Patients received standard paclitaxel premeditations. To date, 175 cycles have been administered (median cycle length, 29 days; median number of cycles per patient, five). Toxicities included grade 3/4 infections in nine cycles (5%), grade 3/4 mucositis in three cycles, grade 3/4 nausea/vomiting in three cycles, grade 1 paresthesias in 12 patients (32%), alopecia 100%, and 17 cycles (10%) associated with dose reduction. Based on Cancer and Leukemia Group B toxicity criteria, arthralgia/myalgias were modest and graded mild (32 cycles), moderate (nine cycles), or severe (two cycles). There were two major hypersensitivity reactions, prompting removal of those patients from further protocol treatment. Four patients are unassessable for response due to hypersensitivity reactions (two) and unevaluable disease (two). Among the 34 patients evaluable for response, there were three complete responses, 18 partial responses, one minor response, nine stable disease, and three progressive disease (response rate, 62%). Responses were seen in patients who had received prior doxorubicin or mitoxantrone (11 of 22 patients) and in anthracycline-naive patients (10 of 16 patients). Responses were observed in all metastatic sites: soft tissue, viscera, and bone. Paclitaxel/5-FU/folinic acid appears to be an effective and well-tolerated outpatient regimen for women with MBC, even after failure of anthracycline-containing therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)48-52
Number of pages5
JournalSeminars in oncology
Issue number1 SUPPL. 1
StatePublished - 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Oncology


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