Study Suggests Intensifying Chemotherapy Improves Outcomes for Women With Early-Stage Disease

Many women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer with a high risk of recurrence (the cancer coming back) get chemotherapy after surgery to reduce the risk of recurrence. In some cases, the dose intensity of the chemotherapy may be increased.

The dose intensity of chemotherapy can be increased by:

  • giving more medicine in each dose
  • shortening the length of time between cycles; so, you get chemotherapy every 2 weeks instead of the standard schedule of every 3 weeks
  • giving medicines one after the other (sequentially), rather than at the same time (concurrently), so a higher dose of each medicine can be given

Dose-intensified chemotherapy regimens are used more often in the United States than they are in Europe.

A study suggests that dose-intensified chemotherapy regimens decrease the risk of recurrence as well as the risk of dying from breast cancer in women diagnosed with early-stage disease.

The research was presented on Dec. 6, 2017 at the 2017 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. Read the abstract of “Increasing the dose density of adjuvant chemotherapy by shortening intervals between courses or by sequential drug administration significantly reduces both disease recurrence and breast cancer mortality: An EBCTCG meta-analysis of 21,000 women in 16 randomised trials.”

This study was a meta-analysis. A meta-analysis is a study that combines and analyzes the results of many earlier studies. In this case, the results from 21,537 women from 16 studies were analyzed. All the women had been diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer.

In this analysis, the chemotherapy doses were intensified in two ways:

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