A trial looking at chemotherapy after surgery for breast cancer (TACT 2)

Please note - this trial is no longer recruiting patients. We hope to add results when they are available.

Cancer type:

Breast cancer




Phase 3

This trial is comparing 2 weekly with 3 weekly epirubicin combined with either CMF chemotherapy or capecitabine, after surgery for breast cancer. This trial is supported by Cancer Research UK.

Doctors sometimes treat early breast cancer with chemotherapy after surgery. Cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, 5FU and epirubicin are drugs commonly used. Doctors think that giving another drug called capecitabine might be useful but they are not sure.

This trial is comparing giving these drugs in certain combinations either every 2 or every 3 weeks, to see which is better at treating early breast cancer. And to find out more about the side effects.

Who can enter

You can enter this trial if you

  • Have early breast cancer that needs chemotherapy treatment
  • Have had surgery to remove your breast cancer within the last 8 weeks
  • Are well enough to have chemotherapy (performance status 0, or 1)
  • Have satisfactory blood test results
  • Are at least 18 years old
  • Are willing to use reliable contraception while you are taking part in the trial if there is any chance you or your partner could become pregnant

You cannot enter this trial if you

  • Have not yet had any treatment for your breast cancer
  • Have had previous breast cancer (except DCIS or LCIS that was removed with surgery)
  • Have stage 3 or 4 breast cancer
  • Have had chemotherapy or radiotherapy before, except radiotherapy for non melanoma skin cancer
  • Have had more than 6 weeks of hormone therapy before your breast cancer surgery (you must have stopped any hormone therapy at least 1 month before joining the trial)
  • Have, or have had any other cancer in the last 10 years, apart from carcinoma in situ of the cervix or non melanoma skin cancer or DCIS that was treated successfully
  • Have any other serious medical condition
  • Have heart or kidney problems
  • Are HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C positive
  • Have an infection and are taking antibiotics
  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding

Trial design

This is a phase 3 trial. It aims to recruit about 4,400 people. The trial is randomised. If you take part you will be put into one of 4 different treatment groups by a computer. Neither you nor your doctor will be able to decide which group you are in.

If you are in group 1, you will have epirubicin. You will have this drug into your vein through a drip. This takes about an hour each time. You have this on day 1 of your 3 week treatment cycle. Each 3 week period is one cycle of chemotherapy. You will have 4 cycles of this.

Next you will have 4 cycles of another chemotherapy combination, each cycle over 4 weeks. This will be cyclophosphamide either as a tablet to swallow every day for 14 days, or through a drip on day 1 and day 8 of your 28 day treatment cycle. You will also have methotrexate and 5FU on days 1 and 8 of your treatment cycle. You will have 8 cycles in all, so your treatment will last for about 6 months.

If you are in group 2, you will have epirubicin. You will have this drug into your vein through a drip. You will have this drug on day 1 of each 2 week treatment cycle. You will have 4 treatment cycles. You will also have a single dose of G-CSF as an injection under the skin on the day after each dose of epirubicin.

G-CSF is a growth factor that stimulates white blood cells to grow. Some chemotherapy drugs used can cause a drop in the number of white blood cells. Giving G-CSF after each dose of chemotherapy may prevent the white blood cell count falling so far. The aim of this is to reduce the risk of infection, and to give the full dose of chemotherapy each time.

As for group 1, after 4 cycles of epirubicin, you will then have cyclophosphamide, methotrexate and 5FU every 28 days. Each 4 week period is one cycle and you will have 4 cycles of this making 8 treatment cycles in all. Your treatment will last about 6 months.

Group 3 will have epirubicin every 3 weeks for 4 cycles. Then you will have another chemotherapy drug called capecitabine. You will have this as tablets to swallow for 14 days every 3 weeks for 4 cycles in all.

If you are in group 4, you will have epirubicin every 2 weeks for 4 cycles. You will also have a single dose of G-CSF a day after having each dose of epirubicin as in group 2. After this treatment, you will then have capecitabine the same as for group 3. Both Group 3 and Group 4 will have treatment that will last for about 6 months.

Your doctor may decide that you should also have a course of radiotherapy to treat your breast cancer. This applies to women in all 4 groups, but will depend on your individual situation. If you do have radiotherapy, you will start treatment after you finish your course of chemotherapy.

Hospital visits

You will need to go to the hospital to have some tests before you can take part in this trial. These tests include

  • A chest X-ray
  • Blood tests

You may be asked to have

You will have blood tests and check ups throughout your treatment. Whichever group you are in, you will have your treatment as a day patient. You will probably spend at least half a day at the hospital each time.

After your treatment has finished you will see your doctor every 6 months over the next 2 years, then yearly after that for about 5 years. Your doctor will ask how you are, examine you and may arrange for you to have other tests, such as blood tests.

You may also be asked to fill out a questionnaire during your treatment. This will ask you how you have been feeling. It is called a 'Quality of Life' study.

Side effects

All treatments have side effects. The most common side effects of the chemotherapy drugs in this trial are

There is more information about the side effects of epirubicin, capecitabine, cyclophosphamide, methotrexate and 5FU on CancerHelp UK.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Professor David Cameron
Professor Judith Bliss

Supported by

Cancer Research UK
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer

Other information

This is Cancer Research UK trial number CRUK/05/019. 

Questions about cancer? Contact our information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:


Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Harriet wanted to try new treatments

A picture of Harriet

“I was keen to go on a clinical trial. I wanted to try new cancer treatments and hopefully help future generations.”

Last reviewed:

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