When a woman develops breast cancer, surgery is almost always the first step. It is often followed with chemotherapy to help kill any stray cancer cells. Now a simple modification in the way chemo is given is helping improve breast cancer survival.
A new study tests the way chemo is given, by giving it more frequently than the conventional protocol. Every time chemo is given it kills a proportion of the cells and if it is given more often there is less time for them to grow back in between treatments.
The dose-dense chemo study of 2000 women used the standard drugs, Adriamycin, Taxol and Cytoxin and Neupogen to restore bone marrow cells. The differences were dramatic.
Among the women who got the drugs in the standard way, the lower dose over a three week cycles, 75 percent were alive and cancer free four years later. But among the women who received a higher dose in two-week cycles, 82 percent were alive and cancer free and had lower risk of severe infection and hospitalization.
The new way to give chemo doesn't require any fancy technology or training. It's something that can be implemented today in virtually every hospital and clinic that treats breast cancer.