Addition of gemcitabine to paclitaxel, epirubicin, and cyclophosphamide adjuvant chemotherapy for women with early-stage breast cancer (tAnGo): final 10-year follow-up of an open-label, randomised, phase 3 trial.
HM Earl, L Hiller, HC Howard, JA Dunn, J Young, SJ Bowden, M McDermaid, AK Waterhouse, G Wilson, R Agrawal, S O'Reilly, A Bowman, DM Ritchie, A Goodman, T Hickish, K McAdam, D Cameron, D Dodwell, DW Rea, C Caldas, E Provenzano, JE Abraham, P Canney, JP Crown, MJ Kennedy, R Coleman, RC Leonard, JA Carmichael, AM Wardley, CJ Poole, tAnGo trial collaborators
BACKGROUND: The tAnGo trial was designed to investigate the potential role of gemcitabine when added to anthracycline and taxane-containing adjuvant chemotherapy for early breast cancer. When this study was developed, gemcitabine had shown significant activity in metastatic breast cancer, and there was evidence of a favourable interaction with paclitaxel. METHODS: tAnGo was an international, open-label, randomised, phase 3 superiority trial that enrolled women aged 18 years or older with newly diagnosed, early-stage breast cancer who had a definite indication for chemotherapy, any nodal status, any hormone receptor status, Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status of 0-1, and adequate bone marrow, hepatic, and renal function. Women were recruited from 127 clinical centres and hospitals in the UK and Ireland, and randomly assigned (1:1) to one of two treatment regimens: epirubicin, cyclophosphamide, and paclitaxel (four cycles of 90 mg/m2 intravenously administered epirubicin and 600 mg/m2 intravenously administered cyclophosphamide on day 1 every 3 weeks, followed by four cycles of 175 mg/m2 paclitaxel as a 3 h infusion on day 1 every 3 weeks) or epirubicin, cyclophosphamide, and paclitaxel plus gemcitabine (the same chemotherapy regimen as the other group, with the addition of 1250 mg/m2 gemcitabine to the paclitaxel cycles, administered intravenously as a 0·5 h infusion on days 1 and 8 every 3 weeks). Patients were randomly assigned by a central computerised deterministic minimisation procedure, with stratification by country, age, radiotherapy intent, nodal status, and oestrogen receptor and HER-2 status. The primary endpoint was disease-free survival and the trial aimed to detect 5% differences in 5-year disease-free survival between the treatment groups. Recruitment completed in 2004 and this is the final, intention-to-treat analysis. This trial is registered with EudraCT (2004-002927-41), ISRCTN (51146252), and ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT00039546). FINDINGS: Between Aug 22, 2001, and Nov 26, 2004, 3152 patients were enrolled and randomly assigned to epirubicin, cyclophosphamide, paclitaxel, and gemcitabine (gemcitabine group; n=1576) or to epirubicin, cyclophosphamide, and paclitaxel (control group; n=1576). 11 patients (six in the gemcitabine group and five in the control group) were ineligible because of pre-existing metastases and were therefore excluded from the analysis. At this protocol-specified final analysis (median follow-up 10 years [IQR 10-10]), 1087 disease-free survival events and 914 deaths had occurred. Disease-free survival did not differ significantly between the treatment groups at 10 years (65% [63-68] in the gemcitabine group vs 65% [62-67] in the control group), and median disease-free survival was not reached (adjusted hazard ratio 0·97 [95% CI 0·86-1·10], p=0·64). Toxicity, dose intensity, and a detailed safety substudy showed both regimens to be safe, deliverable, and tolerable. Grade 3 and 4 toxicities were reported at expected levels in both groups. The most common were neutropenia (527 [34%] of 1565 patients in the gemcitabine group vs 412 [26%] of 1567 in the control group), myalgia and arthralgia (207 [13%] vs 186 [12%]), fatigue (207 [13%] vs 152 [10%]), infection (202 [13%] vs 141 [9%]), vomiting (143 [9%] vs 108 [7%]), and nausea (132 [8%] vs 102 [7%]). INTERPRETATION: The addition of gemcitabine to anthracycline and taxane-based adjuvant chemotherapy at this dose and schedule confers no therapeutic advantage in terms of disease-free survival in early breast cancer, although it can cause increased toxicity. Therefore, gemcitabine has not been added to standard adjuvant chemotherapy in breast cancer for any subgroup. FUNDING: Cancer Research UK core funding for Clinical Trials Unit at the University of Birmingham, Eli Lilly, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Pfizer.