Comparison Study of Taxanes (Taxotere) in Early Breast Cancer Shows no Survival Benefit

It’s fascinating to consider the reasons why anyone opposes the concept of comparison studies to determine the benefit of a treatment. In cancer treatments are extremely expensive, and toxic. Launching patients into therapy without considering the benefit and costs is reckless.

In the May 16th Lancet a study showed no survival improvement when Taxotere was added to standard anthracycline (Epirubicin in this case) adjuvant chemotherapy (the TACT trial).

“At a median follow-up of 62 months, 75.6% of patients who received docetaxel plus anthracycline chemotherapy remained disease free, compared with 74.3% who did not receive docetaxel. The proportion of patients who reported any acute grade 3 or 4 adverse event was significantly greater among patients who received docetaxel.”

But it does add to toxicity:

“The proportion of patients reporting any acute grade 3 or 4 toxicity that occurred during treatment and up to 30 days afterward was significantly greater among those receiving docetaxel.”

The authors do point out that there may be subgroups who benefit. But given the cost and toxicity, adding a Taxane to standard chemotherapy needs further study and verification of efficacy.

Comparing treatments is part of the scientific method. Using this information to inform treatment options is rational medicine and should be encouraged.

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