Anthracyclines and the taxanes are now used earlier in the course of therapy for metastatic breast cancer, and increasingly as part of adjuvant treatment. Accordingly, novel therapies are warranted, including alternatives to anthracyclines and combination strategies in the setting of disease resistance to or disease progression after anthracycline and taxane therapy. Gemcitabine is part of this strategy. The gemcitabine/paclitaxel combination has emerged as part of a new standard of combination therapy for advanced breast cancer, based on phase III data showing superiority of this combination over paclitaxel alone in the first-line therapy setting. Gemcitabine alone, or in combination with paclitaxel and other agents, is also undergoing evaluation in other settings including the refractory metastatic setting, as part of management of patients with HER2-positive disease, and also as part of adjuvant therapy for breast cancer.
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