Background: Chemotherapy dose delay and/or reduction lower relative total dose intensity (RTDI) and may affect short- and long-term outcome of metastatic breast cancer (MBC) patients.
Methods: Based on 933 individual patients' data of from 3 randomized MBC trials using an anthracycline and taxane we examined the impact of RTDI on efficacy and determined the lowest optimal RTDI for MBC patients.
Results: Median time to disease progression (TTDP) and overall survival (OS) of all patients were 39 and 98 weeks. Overall higher RTDI was correlated with a shorter TTDP (log-rank p = 0.0525 for 85% RTDI cut-off). Proportional hazards assumption was violated, there was an early drop in the TTDP-curve for the high RTDI group. It was explained by the fact that patients with primary disease progression (PDP) do have a high RTDI per definition. Excluding those 114 patients with PDP the negative correlation between RTDI and TTDP vanished. However, non-PDP patients with RTDI-cut-off levels <85% showed a shorter OS than patients with higher RTDI levels (p = 0.0086).
Conclusions: Optimizing RTDI above 85% appears to improve long-term outcome of MBC patients receiving first-line chemotherapy. Lowering RTDI had no negative influence on short term outcome like OR and TTDP.