. 2018 Jul; 16(1):144.
doi: 10.1186/s12957-018-1424-4.

Survival benefit of pure dose-dense chemotherapy in breast cancer: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Wenqi Zhou 1 Shizhe Chen 2 Faliang Xu 1 Xiaohua Zeng 3 
  • PMID: 30007402
  •     24 References
  •     3 citations


Background: Dose-dense chemotherapy is a widely accepted regimen for high-risk breast cancer patients. However, conflicting survival benefits of pure dose-dense chemotherapy have been reported in different randomized controlled trials (RCTs). This meta-analysis aimed to further assess the efficacy and safety of pure dose-dense chemotherapy in breast cancer.

Methods: A literature search of electronic databases and websites was performed to identify phase III RCTs reporting the efficacy and toxicity of pure dose-dense chemotherapy. The endpoints of interest were overall survival (OS), disease-free survival (DFS), and toxicities. The hazard ratios (HRs) of death and recurrence and the odds ratios (ORs) of adverse events were estimated and pooled.

Results: Seven studies (five trials) were eligible, encompassing a total of 9851 patients. Patients treated with dose-dense chemotherapy obtained better DFS (HR = 0.83; 95% CI 0.75-0.91; p = 0.0001) than those treated with the conventional schedule, while OS benefit of dose-dense chemotherapy was less impressive (HR = 0.86; 95% CI 0.73-1.02; p = 0.08). However, significant OS benefit was observed in node-positive patients (HR = 0.77; 95% CI 0.66-0.90; p = 0.001). The incidence of anemia, pain, and transaminase elevation was higher in the dose-dense chemotherapy arm.

Conclusions: Dose-dense chemotherapy leads to better prognosis; these findings suggest that it may be a potentially preferred treatment for breast cancer patients, particularly for women with lymph node involvement. However, more RCTs are warranted to better define the best candidates for dose-dense chemotherapy.

Keywords: Breast cancer; Chemotherapy; Dose-dense; Meta-analysis; Overall survival.

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