The feasibility of dexamethasone omission in weekly paclitaxel treatment for breast cancer patients



Patients with breast cancer who receive weekly paclitaxel therapy may experience deleterious effects associated with prophylactic dexamethasone use for 12 consecutive weeks. Approximately 90% of paclitaxel hypersensitivity reactions (HSRs) occur within the first 10 to 15 min of the first two infusions. We investigated the feasibility of dexamethasone withdrawal between weeks 3 and 12 (W3 and W12) in early stage breast cancer patients treated with weekly paclitaxel at the standard dose (80 mg/m2).


All patients received intravenous prophylaxis of dexamethasone 20 mg, ranitidine 50 mg, and diphenhydramine 50 mg in the first 2 weeks (W1 and W2) of treatment. Provided that no serious (G3/G4) HSRs events occurred, dexamethasone was omitted between W3 and W12, while ranitidine and diphenhydramine were continued. The primary end point was the incidence of any grade HSRs during the treatment period, and the secondary end points were quality of life and weight changes.


Twenty-five patients were included in the study, and 300 infusion cycles of paclitaxel were evaluated for HSRs. The overall incidence of HSRs was 0.6% (2 events), and both of these events occurred in the first week. There were no incidents of serious HSRs or anaphylaxis and no G3 or G4 toxicities. Scores from the EORTC QLQ-C30 questionnaire did not change significantly for the global health status/quality of life scale or for the symptoms scales, although changes in scores differed significantly for the functional scales. There were no clinically relevant weight changes during the treatment period.


Dexamethasone withdrawal from W3 to W12 in early stage breast cancer patients treated with weekly paclitaxel is feasible. The incidence of all grades of HSRs was comparable to that reported in trials with dexamethasone for 12 consecutive weeks, and no serious events (G3/G4) occurred. Studies with larger sample sizes are needed to confirm our results which are important, especially for patients for whom corticosteroids are contraindicated.

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Correspondence to Ana Luísa de Castro Baccarin.

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The clinical trial was approved by the Institution’s Ethics Committee.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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de Castro Baccarin, A.L., Irene, M.N., de Iracema Gomes Cubero, D. et al. The feasibility of dexamethasone omission in weekly paclitaxel treatment for breast cancer patients. Support Care Cancer 27, 927–931 (2019).

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  • Paclitaxel
  • Hypersensitivity reactions
  • Prophylaxis
  • Dexamethasone