Treatment of relapsed and refractory breast cancer with paclitaxel schedules

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Patients with metastatic or recurrent breast cancer will eventually have disease relapse or progression after an initial response to commonly used chemotherapy agents or hormonal therapy. Paclitaxel at various doses and schedules has been proven active against relapsed and refractory breast cancer even in patients who failed on prior anthracycline-containing treatments. When paclitaxel was given over 24-hour infusion every 3 weeks, the response rates seemed to be dependent on the number of prior chemotherapy regimens. Three-hour infusion versus 24-hour infusion of paclitaxel every 3 weeks has a similar efficacy but different toxicity profiles. Based on the preclinical studies showing that continuous infusion of paclitaxel may have better therapeutic effect than a short infusion, 96-hour infusion has produced a 25-40% response rate in patients who have failed or progressed from 3-hour infusion of paclitaxel every three weeks. More recently, paclitaxel has been tested on a weekly schedule at a dose between 50 mg/m2/week to 100 mg/m2/week. This schedule turned out to be very well tolerated and also highly effective with a response rate of 18-47% in patients with prior chemotherapy. Again, it also has activity in patients with prior exposure of paclitaxel given every 3 weeks. Current randomized phase III trials comparing 3-hour versus 96-hour paclitaxel every 3 weeks as first-line chemotherapy for metastatic breast cancer and also comparing weekly paclitaxel versus paclitaxel every 3 weeks should give new insight into the optimal way of delivering paclitaxel in this group of patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-55
Number of pages4
JournalCME Journal of Gynecologic Oncology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Paclitaxel
  • Refractory breast cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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