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Dose-response Relationship Of Epirubicin In The Treatment Of Postmenopausal Patients With Metastatic Breast Cancer: A Randomized Study Of Epirubicin At Four Different Dose Levels Performed By The Danish Breast Cancer Cooperative Group.

L Bastholt, M Dalmark, S B Gjedde, P Pfeiffer, D Pedersen, E Sandberg, M Kjaer, H T Mouridsen, C Rose, O S Nielsen, P Jakobsen, S M Bentzen

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PURPOSE To test for possible correlations between dose of single-drug epirubicin and efficacy/toxicity in postmenopausal women with metastatic breast cancer. The study also included analysis of a correlation between pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic parameters. PATIENTS AND METHODS Two hundred eighty-seven women were randomized to receive either 40, 60, 90, or 135 mg/m2 of epirubicin intravenously (IV) every 3 weeks. Treatment consisted of first-line cytotoxic therapy for metastatic disease. In patients with early progressive disease after either 40 or 60 mg/m2, dose escalation to 135 mg/m2 was performed. A full pharmacokinetic analysis was performed in 78 patients. RESULTS Among 263 eligible patients, an increase in response rate and time to progression was found with an increase in dose from 40 to 90 mg/m2, while no increase in efficacy was found from 90 to 135 mg/m2. Multivariate analysis, using the Cox proportional hazards model with time to progression as the end point, confirmed that epirubicin dose more than 60 mg/m2 was an independent prognostic covariate. Furthermore, a significant association was established between randomized dose and both hematologic and nonhematologic toxicity. No association between pharmacokinetic parameters and efficacy parameters was demonstrated. On the other hand, a significant correlation between pharmacokinetic parameters and both hematologic and nonhematologic toxicity was found. CONCLUSION An increase in dose of epirubicin from 40 to 90 mg/m2 is accompanied by increased efficacy. Further increases in dose do not yield increased efficacy. A positive correlation between epirubicin dose and toxicity, as well as a correlation between pharmacokinetic parameters and toxicity, was also established.