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Chemotherapy trial proves the worth of including elderly patients in clinical trials

ct for both drugs was haematologic toxicity; this includes symptoms such as a low red blood cell count which can lead to tiredness, a low white blood cell count which can lead to a risk of infection, and a risk of haemorrhages. However no patients in the trial suffered from infection or haemorrhages.

Some women on epirubicin suffered from hair loss and mucositis (which produces symptoms such as soreness in the mouth area so that patients have difficulty swallowing). Low white blood cell counts were found in 18% of women on epirubicin and 20% of women on gemcitabine, but this did not lead to infection.

Dr. Feher said: The results of this large multicentre phase lll study demonstrate the effectiveness and safety of chemotherapy in elderly women with metastatic breast cancer. Epirubicin was more effective than gemcitabine in terms of time to progressive disease and tumour response.

This study shows how important it is to perform clinical trials targeting the elderly, so that we can learn more precisely about the efficacy and tolerability of potential toxic treatments in this population. For instance, the excellent tolerance observed in both arms of our trial was surprising. Oncologists should be encouraged to enrol the elderly in clinical trials.


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Contact: Emma Mason
wordmason@aol.com
44-0-7711-296-986
Federation of European Cancer Societies
20-Mar-2002


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