To determine the relative efficacy of an intensive cyclophosphamide, epirubicin, and fluorouracil (CEF) adjuvant chemotherapy regimen compared with cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, and fluorouracil (CMF) in node-positive breast cancer.
PATIENTS AND METHODS
Premenopausal women with node-positive breast cancer were randomly allocated to receive either cyclophosphamide 100 mg/m2 orally days 1 through 14; methotrexate 40 mg/m2 intravenously (i.v.) days 1 and 8; and fluorouracil 600 mg/m2 i.v. days 1 and 8 or cyclophosphomide 75 mg/m2 orally days 1 through 14; epirubicin 60 mg/m2 i.v. days 1 and 8; and fluorouracil 500 mg/m2 i.v. days 1 and 8. Each cycle was administered monthly for 6 months. Patients administered CEF received antibiotic prophylaxis with cotrimoxazole two tablets twice a day for the duration of chemotherapy.
The median follow-up was 59 months. One hundred sixty-nine of the 359 CMF patients developed recurrence compared with 132 of the 351 CEF patients. The corresponding 5-year relapse-free survival rates were 53% and 63%, respectively (P = .009). One hundred seven CMF patients died compared with 85 CEF patients. The corresponding 5-year actuarial survival rates were 70% and 77%, respectively (P = .03). The rate of hospitalization for febrile neutropenia was 1.1% in the CMF group compared with 8.5% in the CEF group. There was one case of congestive heart failure in a patient who received CMF compared with none in the CEF group. Acute leukemia occurred in five patients in the CEF group.
The results of this trial show the superiority of CEF over CMF in terms of both disease-free and overall survival in premenopausal women with axillary node-positive breast cancer.