AC-T: Doxorubicin and Cyclophosphamide, Followed by Paclitaxel or Docetaxel

Updated 
August 31, 2015
Reviewed By: 

AC-T (doxorubicininfo-icon and cyclophosphamideinfo-icon followed by paclitaxelinfo-icon), also called AC-T and AC-Taxolinfo-icon, is a chemotherapyinfo-icon combination treatment used to treat breast cancer. It contains these medicines:

Sometimes this regimeninfo-icon is offered with docetaxelinfo-icon (Taxotereinfo-icon) instead of paclitaxel. It would still be called AC-T. Ask your providers to explain why they recommend one taxane over another. 

How AC-T Works

Doxorubicininfo-icon damages the DNA inside the cancer cells. The damage stops the cells from dividing, which causes them to die.

Cyclophosphamideinfo-icon attaches to and damages the DNA in cancer cells when they are in their resting phase (not dividing). After their DNA is damaged, the cells can’t keep dividing, and their growth slows or stops.

Paclitaxelinfo-icon works by damaging the structure or the “skeleton” that supports cancer cells. This stops the cancer cells from growing and dividing. Docetaxol (taxotereinfo-icon) works in a similar way and is sometimes used instead of paclitaxel.

Who Gets AC-T

AC-T is a standard regimeninfo-icon for breast cancers that require treatment with chemotherapyinfo-icon. Women with cancer of a higher gradeinfo-icon and younger women often get this combination. It can also be used in people who have had a recurrenceinfo-icon depending the medicines you received for early-stageinfo-icon disease.

AC-T can be given after surgeryinfo-icon as adjuvant therapyinfo-icon, or before surgery as neoadjuvant therapyinfo-icon. Sometimes the AC portion is given before surgery and the taxaneinfo-icon after, based on the cancer that remains in the breast after surgery.

You and your doctor will discuss the best chemotherapy treatment for your situation.

How AC-T is Given

AC-T is usually given in eight treatments, once every 3 weeks. The first four treatments are AC, and the next four are paclitaxelinfo-icon (T). Sometimes the paclitaxel is given weekly at a lower doseinfo-icon instead of every 3 weeks. The whole course of AC-T treatment takes about 5 months.

AC-T is more commonly given on a dose-dense schedule of AC every 2 weeks for a total of four cycles, followed by T every 2 weeks for a total of four cycles.

Both AC and T are given by veininfo-icon into your hand or arm. 

Sometimes docetaxelinfo-icon is used instead of paclitaxel. The AC portion is given once every three weeks followed by docetaxel, which is also given once every three weeks.

Side Effects and Things to Remember

Different medicines have different side effects. You may not have every side effectinfo-icon related to each medicineinfo-icon of the combination therapyinfo-icon

Side effects of AC-T may include:

Your doctor will check your blood before you start treatment. If your blood count is low then your treatment may be delayed.

Be sure to tell your doctor about any medicines you are taking, including vitamins, herbal supplements and over-the counter-medicines, to make sure they will not interfere with your chemotherapyinfo-icon treatment.

Drinking a lot of fluids can help avoid kidney and bladder side effects. Ask your doctor how much and how often you should drink each day. You should also avoid getting too much sun. When you go outside, wear sunscreen and clothes that cover your skin. Contact your doctor right away if you develop a fever or other symptoms of an infection such as a sore throat, cough or diarrhea.

Talk to your doctor, pharmacistinfo-icon or nurseinfo-icon about all your side effects so that they can help you manage them. You can also go to our section on Side Effects for more information.

More In Chemotherapy

Article August 31, 2015
Article August 31, 2015
Article August 31, 2015