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Background: To assess antitumor activity and toxicity of pemetrexed in metastatic breast cancer (MBC) patients previously treated with anthracyclines. Patients and methods: Seventy-seven MBC patients from 12 European institutions were entered into the study. Seventy-two patients were considered evaluable for response and toxicity. Forty-two patients were classified as anthracycline-failure (relapse >30 days after completion of a prior anthracycline regimen) and 30 as anthracycline-refractory (progression within 30 days after anthracycline therapy). Pemetrexed 600 mg/m2 was administered intravenously every 3 weeks until progressive disease or unacceptable toxicity. Results: There were three complete and 12 partial responders [response rate 21% (95% confidence interval 12%)]. Response rates in the anthracycline-failure and anthracycline-refractory groups were 24% and 17%, respectively. A subset of 31 patients pretreated with anthracyclines and taxanes had a response rate of 26%. Median duration of response and median survival were 5.5 and 10.7 months, respectively (13 months in the failure group and 5.7 months for refractory). Grade 3/4 toxicities included neutropenia and thrombocytopenia in 56% and 19% of patients, respectively. Nine patients (12%) experienced neutropenic fever. Grade 3/4 non-hematological toxicities included skin rash (10%), nausea (12%), fatigue (10%) and stomatitis (5%). Conclusion: Our trial demonstrates pemetrexed to be active in breast cancer, with manageable toxicity. Activity of pemetrexed did not appear to be adversely affected by prior taxane, 5-fluorouracil or endocrine treatments.

Original publication




Journal article


Annals of Oncology

Publication Date





1246 - 1252