Taxanes may enhance immunity in breast cancer patients

ys the research team had the ideal population to study, with the results of critical immune functions taken immediately after the patients' enrollment in the earlier study already on file. All of the women were part of an ongoing clinical trial at Ohio State running from 1994-2006 to study the effects of stress on the immune system among breast cancer patients with stage II or stage III disease.

Women in the study were assigned to either a stress-reduction group or an assessment group. Stress-reducing elements in the intervention group included periodic relaxation techniques and group support.

Half way through the study, taxanes drugs like paclitaxel (Taxol) and docetaxel (Taxotere) emerged as popular options for women whose disease had spread to their lymph nodes.

"These findings are important because they suggest taxanes may enhance a woman's ability to respond to infection or even to fend off a possible recurrence," says Carson.

On the other hand, T cell formation and NK cell function only partially reflect the vigor of a patient's immune system, and the relationship between the strength of a patient's immune system and the ability to fend off cancer is not yet completely understood.

"The real question is whether the use of taxanes improves patient outcomes or quality of life," says Carson. A study to assess that is already underway at Ohio State.

Support for the study came from the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, Longaberger Company American Cancer Society Grant for Breast Cancer Research, a U.S. Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity Grant and the National Institute of Mental Health.

Co-authors on the study include Barbara Andersen, Charles Shapiro, Timothy Crespin and Liz Thornton.


Contact: Michelle Gailiun
Ohio State University

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