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

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Cancer type:

Breast cancer




Phase 3

This trial compared 2 different types of chemotherapy after surgery for breast cancer. This trial was supported by Cancer Research UK.

Doctors usually treat early stage breast cancer with surgery. Many women also have chemotherapy after surgery because this helps to stop breast cancer coming back. This is called adjuvant treatment.

CMF was the chemotherapy that was most commonly used as adjuvant treatment for early breast cancer. In this trial, doctors wanted to find out if adding another drug called epirubicin to CMF would work better.

You have chemotherapy in cycles of treatment. In this trial, half the women had 6 cycles of CMF, half had 4 cycles of epirubicin, followed by 4 cycles of CMF.

The aim of the trial was to find out which treatment worked best for early stage breast cancer.

Summary of results

The trial team found that a combination of epirubicin and CMF is better than CMF alone as treatment after surgery for early stage breast cancer.

The trial recruited 2,391 women. Of those,

  • 1,189 had epirubicin and CMF
  • 1,202 had CMF alone

82 out of every 100 women (82%) who had epirubicin and CMF were alive 5 years after treatment.

75 out of every 100 women (75%) who had CMF alone were alive 5 years after treatment. More women in this group had a recurrence of their breast cancer.

The women having epirubicin and CMF had more side effects, particularly hair loss and feeling or being sick. But all other side effects, such as a drop in the number of blood cells, were about the same for both groups.

We have been sent these results by the team who ran the trial.  The information they sent us has been reviewed by other independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) and published in a medical journal. The figures we quote above were provided by the trial team. We have not analysed the data ourselves.

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

Dr Helena Earl
Dr Chris Poole

Supported by

Cancer Research UK
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer

Other information

This is Cancer Research UK trial number CRUK/96/003.

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Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle 28

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

Deborah wanted to help other breast cancer patients in the future

A picture of Deborah

“Deborah agreed to take part in a trial as she was keen to help other cancer patients in the future. "If taking part in a trial means others might be helped then I’m very happy with that."

Last reviewed:

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