A post-surgery injection of Sanofi-Aventis’ oncology drug, Taxotere (docetaxel), reduces the risk of death by 30% in breast cancer patients, according to Phase III clinical trial results published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The study, conducted by the Breast Cancer International Research Group, involved almost 1,500 patients who received either Taxotere in combination with the chemotherapy agents, doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide, after surgery, or with a standard treatment known as FAC (5-fluorouracil, doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide). Eight-seven percent of the women treated with Taxotere were alive at five years, versus 81% in the control arm of the study. Data also showed that the Taxotere combination reduced the risk of relapse by 28%.

“What is particularly important about the Taxotere findings is that the risk of relapse is reduced in both hormone receptor positive and hormone receptor negative patients and is irrespective of the number of positive lymph nodes, which means that all women with operable, node-positive breast cancer may potentially benefit from the TAC therapy,” said Dr Miguel Martin, member of the BCIRG steering committee.

Taxotere is approved for the treatment of patients with locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer after failure of prior chemotherapy.