Frequent Chemo Ups Breast Cancer Survival
Reduces Cancer Recurrence With No More Side Effects
WebMD News Archive
The benefits of the dose-dense regimen were expected to increase over time, says researcher Marc L. Citron, MD, clinical professor of medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.
The idea behind dose-dense dosing is simple: Giving the drugs more frequently doesn't give the cancer as much time to grow between treatments. Thus, each time you treat, you're treating a smaller and smaller amount of cancer.
But for years, doctors were reluctant to try the dose-dense regimen. The reason: Frequent chemotherapy can cause the number of white blood cells to decline -- a condition that increases the risk of serious infection.
But the development of drugs that increase the number of white blood cells in women undergoing chemotherapy has changed all that, the researchers said.
In fact, women on the dose-dense regimens were given such a drug and were less likely to develop a low white blood-cell count, the study showed.
Other side effects were equally common among women on both regimens.
"The bottom line is that the data suggest you can accomplish the same or better in terms of outcome by decreasing the interval between treatments," says William Gradishar, MD, associate professor of medicine at Northwestern University and another study researcher. "For patients with early breast cancer, this should be considered a standard of care."
Jeffrey Abrams, MD, who heads breast cancer trials at the National Cancer Institute, cautions that until the findings are confirmed in future studies, it is too soon to say whether a dose-dense chemotherapy regimen should be the new standard of care.
Nevertheless, he added, the reduced risk of recurrence and death, coupled with the low occurrence of side effects, are encouraging.