Open Access Research article

Effects on quality of life, anti-cancer responses, breast conserving surgery and survival with neoadjuvant docetaxel: a randomised study of sequential weekly versus three-weekly docetaxel following neoadjuvant doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide in women with primary breast cancer

Leslie G Walker1, Jennifer M Eremin2, Mark M Aloysius8*, Wichai Vassanasiri34, Mary B Walker1, Mohamed El-Sheemy345, Ged Cowley6, Jeanette Beer3, Srila Samphao3, Janice Wiseman3, Jibril A Jibril4, David Valerio4, David J Clarke4, Mujahid Kamal7, Gerald W Thorpe7, Karin Baria2 and Oleg Eremin348

Author Affiliations

1 Oncology Health Centres and the Institute of Rehabilitation, University of Hull, Kingston upon Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire HU3 2PG, UK

2 Department of Clinical Oncology, Lincoln County Hospital, Lincoln LN2 5QY, UK

3 Research & Development Department, Lincoln County Hospital, Lincoln, UK

4 Lincoln Breast Unit, Lincoln County Hospital, Lincoln, UK

5 Department of Health, Life and Social Sciences, University of Lincoln, Lincoln, LN6 7TS, UK

6 Department of Pathology, Lincoln County Hospital, Lincoln, UK

7 Department of Radiology, Lincoln County Hospital, Lincoln, UK

8 Department of Surgery, Nottingham University Hospitals, Nottingham NG7 2UH, UK

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BMC Cancer 2011, 11:179  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-11-179

Published: 18 May 2011



Weekly docetaxel has occasionally been used in the neoadjuvant to downstage breast cancer to reduce toxicity and possibly enhance quality of life. However, no studies have compared the standard three weekly regimen to the weekly regimen in terms of quality of life. The primary aim of our study was to compare the effects on QoL of weekly versus 3-weekly sequential neoadjuvant docetaxel. Secondary aims were to determine the clinical and pathological responses, incidence of Breast Conserving Surgery (BCS), Disease Free Survival (DFS) and Overall Survival (OS).


Eighty-nine patients receiving four cycles of doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide were randomised to receive twelve cycles of weekly docetaxel (33 mg/m2) or four cycles of 3-weekly docetaxel (100 mg/m2). The Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Breast and psychosocial questionnaires were completed.


At a median follow-up of 71.5 months, there was no difference in the Trial Outcome Index scores between treatment groups. During weekly docetaxel, patients experienced less constipation, nail problems, neuropathy, tiredness, distress, depressed mood, and unhappiness. There were no differences in overall clinical response (93% vs. 90%), pathological complete response (20% vs. 27%), and breast-conserving surgery (BCS) rates (49% vs. 42%). Disease-free survival and overall survival were similar between treatment groups.


Weekly docetaxel is well-tolerated and has less distressing side-effects, without compromising therapeutic responses, Breast Conserving Surgery (BCS) or survival outcomes in the neoadjuvant setting.

Trial registration


Breast cancer; Docetaxel; Neoadjuvant therapy; Quality of life