A trial looking at weekly versus 3 weekly paclitaxel for breast cancer that has spread (Will Weekly Win)

Cancer type:

Breast cancer

Status:

Results

Phase:

Phase 3

This trial found out if it was best for people with breast cancer to have paclitaxel (Taxol chemotherapy) every week or every 3 weeks.

More about this trial

Chemotherapy is common treatment for breast cancer that has spread (metastasised) or breast cancer that has come back (recurred) after treatment. 

When this trial was done paclitaxel was one of the chemotherapy drugs that you might have. It is usually given once every 3 weeks.

Researchers thought that having paclitaxel once a week might be as good as having it once every 3 weeks. 

To find out if it was as good, the people in this trial had paclitaxel either every week or every 3 weeks. Researchers compared the results of both treatment groups to find out which was better at stopping the cancer from coming back.
 

Summary of results

The trial team found that weekly paclitaxel was better at keeping advanced breast cancer under control than 3 weekly paclitaxel. But it didn’t find that people having it lived longer than those having 3 weekly treatment. 

About this trial
This was a phase 3 trial. 569 people took part. 

It was a randomised trial. There were 2 groups. Neither the person nor their doctor chose which group they were in:

  • 278 people had weekly paclitaxel
  • 291 people had 3 weekly paclitaxel

Results
The researchers were able to look at the results of:

  • 161 people from the weekly paclitaxel group
  • 173 people from the 3 weekly paclitaxel group

The team looked at how well the cancer was controlled in both groups. They found that overall the best result was that it had stayed the same (stable disease). 

Half the people (50%) who had weekly paclitaxel had stable disease. And 45 out of every 100 people (45.4%) in the 3 weekly paclitaxel group did.

The team also looked at the median Open a glossary item time it took for the cancer to start to grow again in each group. They found it was:

  • 160 days for those who had weekly paclitaxel
  • 141 days for those who had 3 weekly paclitaxel 

They said that this wasn’t statistically significant Open a glossary item.

Quality of life
To see if there was a difference in the quality of life between the 2 groups the team looked at the side effect of tiredness (fatigue). They found that for both groups it wasn’t severe and the amount of tiredness was similar in both groups.

Side effects
In the weekly paclitaxel group the researchers found that a drop in white blood cells called neutrophils Open a glossary item was more severe than the 3 weekly group. A severe drop in neutrophils can cause an increased risk of getting an infection. However the number of infections in each group was similar and none were severe. 

Other side effects were the same in each group and none were severe. These included:

  • feeling and being sick
  • inflammation of the mouth

Conclusion
The team concluded that these results show that weekly paclitaxel might be:

  • used in future trials
  • a treatment in chemotherapy suites

They say that the small benefit in controlling the cancer needs consideration. Especially when people have it in a busy chemotherapy suite as it takes more time to give weekly paclitaxel.

Where this information comes from    
We have based this summary on information from the research team.  As far as we are aware, the information they sent us has not been reviewed independently (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) or published in a medical journal yet. The figures we quote above were provided by the research 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 Mark Verrill

Supported by

Anglo Celtic Cooperative Oncology Group
Bristol Myers Squibb
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

46

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

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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