More intensive chemotherapy said to aid patients

May 05, 1994|By Newsday

NEW YORK -- Breast cancer patients who are given the highest accepted levels of chemotherapy survive longer despite the toxic side effects, according to an article to be published in today's New England Journal of Medicine.

Researchers at 26 centers nationwide studied 1,529 women whose breast cancer had spread to their lymph nodes. They concluded after nearly 3 1/2 years of follow-up that the risk of relapse was cut in half by higher-dose treatments. Overall survival also was improved.

"Lower-dose chemotherapy is analogous to taking a baby aspirin for a headache -- there's not enough there to be adequate," said Dr. Daniel Budman, associate director of clinical oncology at North Shore University Hospital on Long Island and co-author of the article.

"The standard of care has already changed over the past two years," Dr. Budman said. As a result of this study, the issue of chemotherapy dose levels will be debated at the American Society of Clinical Oncology's annual meeting this month, a spokesman said.

The study found that women receiving higher doses of chemotherapy were more likely to have nausea and low counts of white blood cells and platelets, but the counts recovered after treatment ended.

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