Chemotherapy principles of managing stage IV breast cancer in the United States
The therapeutic landscape for metastatic breast cancer (MBC) has expanded greatly over the last three decades with an increasing availability of targeted therapies for specific breast cancer subtypes. However, cytotoxic chemotherapy remains an essential component for the management of endocrine refractory or triple negative MBC. Multiple chemotherapy agents have demonstrated activity in MBC as single agents and in combination. While taxanes are frequently recommended as the initial treatment of metastatic disease, capecitabine is a convenient oral therapy with well received toxicity profile. Eribulin is the only agent that demonstrated overall survival (OS) benefit in a phase III clinical trial when compared to treatment of physician choice in heavily pre-treated patients. Ixabepilone, gemcitabine, vinorelbine and platinum agents have demonstrated activity and, therefore, constitute additional therapeutic options. In this review, we will discuss the data supporting the use of different cytotoxic agents and the general principles in guiding the use of chemotherapy.