A prospective pharmacologic evaluation of age-related toxicity of adjuvant chemotherapy in women with breast cancer

E. Claire Dees, Seamus O'Reilly, Steven N. Goodman, Susan Sartorius, Marshall A. Levine, Richard J. Jones, Louise B. Grochow, Ross C. Donehower, John H. Fetting

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

159 Scopus citations


Despite increasing evidence of benefit from adjuvant chemotherapy, older women with breast cancer are commonly given less aggressive treatment than younger patients. Conflicting prior data regarding age-related toxicity prompted this prospective study. Forty-four women (aged 35-79 years) with early-stage breast cancer were treated with four cycles of adjuvant therapy with doxorubicin 60 mg/m2 i.v. and cyclophosphamide 600 mg/m2 i.v. every 21 days. They were monitored for myelosuppression, cardiotoxicity, and decrease in quality of life. Pharmacokinetics were analyzed using cycle 1 plasma samples. Bone marrow granulocyte and macrophage colony-forming units (CFU-GM) were assayed in vitro for dose response to 4-hydroperoxycyclophosphamide and doxorubicin before cycle 1. There was moderate evidence of age-related decrease in nadir absolute neutrophil count (ANC) when age was viewed as a continuous variable. On average there was a 10/μl drop in cycle 1 nadir ANC for every year increase in age (p = 0.02). However, when age was viewed as a categorical variable (age < 65 vs. ≥65 years), a similar proportion of women in each group reached an ANC < 100 (18% vs. 19%). Neither neutropenic complications, alteration in cardiac function, nor change in quality of life scores were significantly age related (p > 0.12). Pharmacokinetic analyses did not demonstrate age-related differences in the clearance of either doxorubicin or cyclophosphamide (p > 0.8). Pharmacodynamic analysis of individual patient bone marrow progenitor cell sensitivity did not reveal any correlation with age (p > 0.48). In women undergoing adjuvant therapy for breast cancer, no clinically significant age-related trends in toxicity were observed. These data suggest that older age alone should not exclude patients from receiving adjuvant therapy with doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)521-529
Number of pages9
JournalCancer Investigation
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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