Adjuvant chemotherapy in breast cancer: To use or not to use, the anthracyclines

Jennifer A. Crozier, Abhisek Swaika, Alvaro Moreno-Aspitia

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Breast cancer continues to be one of the leading causes of cancer mortality in the world. The treatment generally involves multiple modalities including surgery, radiation and/or chemotherapy. Anthracyclines, one of the first chemotherapeutic agents introduced in the 1960s, has been the backbone for the last 30 years and has been used extensively so far. However, the cardiac toxicity and the concern for secondary hematological malignancy has always been a challenge. A better understanding of the tumor biology, role of Her2 expression and the discovery of trastuzumab and other anti-Her 2 agents along with other effective novel therapeutic options, have revolutionized the treatment for breast cancer. The role of anthracyclines has come under close scrutiny, especially in the adjuvant setting for patients with early stage breast cancer and those with low or intermediate risk of disease recurrence. Recent studies have highlighted such a shift in the use of anthracyclines in both the academic and community clinical practice. However, in patients with a high risk of relapse, anthracyclines still hold promise. Ongoing clinical trials are underway to further define the role of anthracyclines in such a patient population. This review highlights the development, clinical utility, limitations and potential future use of anthracyclines in the adjuvant setting for patients with breast cancer. We consulted PubMed, Scopus, MEDLINE, ASCO annual symposium abstracts, and for the purpose of this review.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)529-538
Number of pages10
JournalWorld Journal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 10 2014


  • Adjuvant
  • Anthracyclines
  • Breast cancer
  • Chemotherapy
  • Neoadjuvant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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