Factors that determine docetaxel's efficacy?


Question from LisaK: I've been reading that docetaxel is not effective in most women with estrogen-receptor-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer. Can you please discuss the factors that determine docetaxel's efficacy with this type of cancer? Are there any tests to determine the drug's effect on a patient's cancer?
Answers - Eric Winer, M.D. This is a very large question, and the potential answer is long and complicated. That said, docetaxel (brand name: Taxotere) is probably no different from Taxol and may not be different from chemotherapy in general. In women with breast cancer that is estrogen-receptor-positive, as a general rule, chemotherapy is less effective in preventing a recurrence than in women who have estrogen-receptor-negative breast cancer. However, there are women who clearly benefit from chemotherapy including drugs like docetaxel, and the risks and benefits of therapy should be discussed between a woman and her doctor. As doctors we look at a range of factors to decide what treatments may be most effective in minimizing a woman's chance of having recurrent breast cancer. In patients with metastatic estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer the situation is somewhat different, and it is less clear that there is a difference in the benefits associated with chemotherapy compared to women with estrogen-receptor-negative breast cancer.

On Wednesday, December 15, 2010, our Ask-the-Expert Online Conference was called Updates from the 2010 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. Eric Winer, M.D. and Marisa Weiss, M.D. answered your questions about the latest updates on breast cancer risk, screening, and treatment in early and metastatic breast cancer.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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