Randomized Trial Comparing Cyclophosphamide, Epirubicin, and Fluorouracil With Cyclophosphamide, Methotrexate, and Fluorouracil in Premenopausal Women With Node-Positive Breast Cancer: Update of National Cancer Institute of Canada Clinical Trials Group Trial MA5 Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Purpose Certain anthracycline-containing adjuvant chemotherapy regimens are associated with improved relapse-free survival (RFS) and overall survival (OS) compared with the classic regimen of cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, and fluorouracil in women with early-stage breast cancer. Patients and Methods Between 1989 and 1993, 710 pre- and perimenopausal women with axillary node–positive breast cancer were randomly assigned to either cyclophosphamide 75 mg/m2 orally days 1 through 14, epirubicin 60 mg/m2 intravenously days 1 and 8, and fluorouracil 500 mg/m2 intravenously days 1 and 8 (CEF) or CMF (cyclophosphamide 100 mg/m2 orally days 1 through 14, methotrexate 40 mg/m2 intravenously days 1 and 8, and fluorouracil 600 mg/m2 intravenously days 1 and 8). On the basis of follow-up to May 1997 (median follow-up time, 59 months), there was a statistically significant improvement in RFS and OS for CEF compared with CMF. Results The trial results are now updated, with a median follow-up of 10 years for live patients. The 10-year RFS is 52% for patients who received CEF compared with 45% for CMF patients (hazard ratio [HR] for CMF v CEF = 1.31; stratified log-rank, P = .007). The 10-year OS for patients who received CEF and CMF are 62% and 58%, respectively (HR for CMF v CEF = 1.18; stratified log-rank, P = .085). The rates of acute leukemia have not changed since the original report, whereas the rates of congestive heart failure are slightly higher but acceptable (four patients [1.1%] in the CEF group v one patient [0.3%] in the CMF group). Conclusion The previously demonstrated benefit of CEF compared with CMF adjuvant chemotherapy is maintained with longer follow-up in the MA5 trial.


  • Levine, Mark Norman
  • Pritchard, Kathleen I
  • Bramwell, Vivien HC
  • Shepherd, Lois E
  • Tu, Dongsheng
  • Paul, Nancy

publication date

  • August 1, 2005