Patients taking a new cancer drug for operable hormone-negative breast cancer faced a far higher risk of death or recurrence than those on standard chemotherapy drugs, according to research presented at the 2008 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Xeloda (capecitabine) was found to be far less effective than the traditional regimen of AC (doxorubicin/cyclophosphamide) or CMF (cyclophosphamide/methotrexate/fluorouracil) in a test of women aged 65 and older. Xeloda is an oral drug, so it has a bit more appeal than AC and CMF, which are administered intraveneously.
Thirty-four percent of the patients in the study were hormone receptor-negative. Those on Xeloda faced a five to six times greater risk of recurrence and death than those on standard chemo. Among all participants, the risk was two times higher, so the effects of the drug were especially reduced among women with hormone-negative breast cancer. This is consistent with previous research that has shown a greater benefit from chemo for hormone-negative patients than for hormone-positive.
Patients were studied for two years. Enrollment in the study was stopped after the first 633 patients because the results showed reduced benefit from Xeloda.