A new clinical trial has shown that reducing the interval between successive doses of a commonly used chemotherapy regimen improves survival in women whose breast cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. While previous research has evaluated the use of various forms of "dose dense" chemotherapy, this is the first major controlled study to show a clear survival benefit for women with node-positive breast cancer. The study was conducted by Cancer and Leukemia Group B (CALGB) for the Breast Cancer Intergroup, a consortium of National Cancer Institute (NCI)-sponsored Cooperative Clinical Trials Groups, and is being presented today at the 25th Annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.
"This study suggests that many women with breast cancer may benefit from chemotherapy administered on a condensed schedule," said Marc L. Citron, M.D., Albert Einstein College of Medicine, who is the lead investigator of the study. "With the availability of new drugs to control one of the most serious side effects of chemotherapy administration, we can further increase the chances of survival for women with breast cancer." The dose dense regimen was made tolerable for patients because of the drug filgrastim, which helps prevent neutropenia, a serious complication of chemotherapy.
The researchers found that two dose dense regimens provided significantly higher disease-free survival rates than two regimens using conventional dosing, and that efficacy did not differ between the two dose dense regimens. Among patients on the dose dense regimens, disease-free survival was 82 percent after four years, compared to 75 percent for those who received conventional therapy. This difference corresponded to a 26 percent overall reduction in the risk of cancer recurrence. The findings confirm the predictions of a mathematical model developed in the1980s that suggested the value of increased dose density, which was the impetus for the study.
NCI Press Officer | EurekAlert!
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