, Volume 86, Issue 2, pp 153-164

Health-Related Quality of Life in Axillary Node-Negative, Estrogen Receptor-Negative Breast Cancer Patients Undergoing AC Versus CMF Chemotherapy: Findings from the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project B-23

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Purpose. NSABP Protocol B-23 compared two chemotherapy regimens:(1) cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, and 5-fluorouracil (CMF); and (2) doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide (AC) in terms of relapse-free survival, event-free survival, and overall survival in node-negative and estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer patients. There are no previous data regarding the comparison of quality of life (QOL) between the two regimens in this population of breast cancer patients. QOL information was considered especially relevant given the possibility that the two chemotherapy regimens would prove equivalent in terms of clinical outcome.

Patients and methods. One hundred and sixty patients participated in the NSABP B-23 QOL study. Patients in B-23 were randomly assigned to one of four arms: CMF plus 5 years of tamoxifen (TAM), CMF, plus placebo, AC plus TAM, or AC plus placebo. The questionnaires included the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy (FACT-B); the vitality scale, comparative health item and general health item from the Medical Outcomes Study 36-item Short Form Health Status Survey (MOS SF-36), a symptom checklist and additional items regarding overall QOL; and return to normal activity. Statistical comparisons between treatment arms were performed with area under the curve analyses, repeated measures analyses, and Fisher exact tests.

Results. Overall QOL as measured by the FACT-B did not significantly differ between chemotherapy treatment arms. However, the pattern of vitality over time during treatment differed between chemotherapy groups. The AC group vitality scores dropped more sharply during treatment and returned to baseline levels more quickly after treatment. Patients in the CMF arm were bothered by bladder problems and diarrhea significantly more often than were patients in the AC arm. Otherwise, no significant differences were found between AC and CMF for any of the QOL outcomes in terms of (1) overall QOL during the first 9 months after randomization, (2) the average QOL during treatment, or (3) the rate of recovery to baseline levels of QOL 1 year after randomization.

Conclusion. Overall QOL is equivalent between the two chemotherapy regimens, with some differences in symptoms and in patterns of vitality over time.