Anthracyclines and taxanes are among the most active substances used in the treatment of metastatic breast cancer (MBC). Their frequent use in the adjuvant setting and in cumulative toxicities including cardiotoxicity, however, often limit their use in MBC. The trend towards the use of adjuvant trastuzumab-containing regimens, which can also produce cardiotoxicity, adds further support to the need for effective agents with improved tolerability in the metastatic setting. Pegylated liposomal doxorubicin (PLD) can be an effective alternative to conventional anthracyclines for certain women with MBC. In phase III clinical trials, PLD was as effective as doxorubicin and produced significantly less cardiotoxicity in women with MBC. The incidences of myelotoxicity, nausea/vomiting, and alopecia were also lower with PLD, whereas hand–foot syndrome and stomatitis occurred more frequently. Phase II and III trials conducted in women with MBC support the use of PLD monotherapy in patients relapsing after adjuvant anthracycline-containing therapy, in heavily pretreated patients with taxane-refractory disease, in patients with cardiovascular risk factors (e.g. hypertension and mediastinal irradiation), in elderly patients, and in patients for whom specific acute doxorubicin toxicities, such as alopecia, are particularly worrying.
Royal Marsden Hospital, NHS Trust, Sutton, Surrey, UK
Correspondence to Dr Mary E.R. O'Brien, MD, FRCP, Royal Marsden Hospital, NHS Trust, Sutton, Surrey, SM2 5PT, UK
Tel: +44 20 86613280; fax: +44 20 86430373; e-mail: email@example.com
Received 21 May 2007 Revised form accepted 20 August 2007