22 January 2007

Stronger chemo not better

Increasing the dose intensity of a chemotherapy regimen using the drugs cisplatin and doxorubicin did not produce better treatment results.

The European study of 497 patients age 40 or younger did find that increasing the dose intensity of the chemotherapy drugs killed tumor cells better than standard doses after surgery. However, survival rates were similar for patients who received either the high-intensity or standard doses.

Previous studies have suggested that increasing the intensity of the chemotherapy regimen (done by decreasing the number of days between treatments) may improve survival in patients with certain kinds of cancer.

In this study, patients were divided into two groups. One group received six cisplatin-doxorubicin treatments at three-week intervals (standard treatment) and the other group of patients received the treatments at two-week intervals (dose-intense treatment). The patients in the dose-intense group also received injections of another drug, granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF), to increase their production of white blood cells and help them better tolerate the chemotherapy.

Favorable tumour response - measured by tumour cell death - was reported in 36% of the patients who received standard treatment and 50% of the patients on the dose-intense regimen, the researchers report in the January 17th issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

However, after an average of five years, overall survival and progression-free survival rates were similar for both groups of patients. For example, patients in the dose-intense group had an overall survival rate of 58%, compared to 55% for patients who received standard treatment. -(HealthDayNews, January 2007)

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