LEXINGTON, KY (June 15, 1998) -- Researchers at the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center recently announced the beginning of a novel clinical trial designed to improve the outcome of metastatic breast cancer in some women. The most frequently diagnosed non-skin cancer among women in the United States, breast cancer was expected to kill more than 40,000 women in 1997.
Decades of research with traditional anti-cancer therapies, such as conventional chemotherapy and hormone manipulation, have improved outcomes only marginally, although many women do live longer as a result.
"Women with advanced breast cancer benefit from transplants, but are rarely cured," said Kenneth Foon, M.D., chief of hematology/oncology and director of the UK Markey Cancer Center. "It is our hope that by adding a vaccine therapy to stimulate an immune response, we will destroy residual tumor cells that remained following chemotherapy."
Foon and Donna Reece, M.D., a hematologist/oncologist and director of the Blood and Marrow Transplant Outpatient Clinic, have combined two treatment methods into a single treatment program to improve survival rates.
The first requires high-dose chemotherapy to kill the cancer cells. The second involves the administration of a vaccine to enhance the body's immunity against cancer cells.
High-dose chemotherapy and autologous stem cell rescue are the first treatment steps. Autologous stem cell rescue involves the use of the patient's own blood to obtain stem cells, the precursors of all blood cells. Stem cells will regenerate bone marrow function in the patient after high-dose chemotherapy.
Because high-dose chemotherapy will destroy the patient's bone marrow, stem cells are collected after a small dose of chemotherapy and growth factors. The purified cells are frozen in liquid nitrogen for later use.
Metastatic breast cancer recurs in up to 90 percent of cases after
high-dose therapy. To combat the recurrence of
Contact: Kimberly Cumbie
University of Kentucky Medical Center