New treatment strategies offer hope to women with breast cancer

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Early results of a trial comparing high-dose with conventional chemotherapy for women with breast cancer show that there are no apparent differences in survival or in the rate of relapse, according to research conducted in the UK, Ireland, New Zealand, and Belgium. Speaking at the European Society for Medical Oncology Congress in Nice, France today (21 October 2002), Dr John Crown from St Vincent's University Hospital, Dublin, Ireland, said, however, that new drugs that target the molecules associated with cancer, given in conjunction with chemotherapy, offer promising prospects for clinical trials.

Breast cancer is the most common cause of death from cancer in women in most Western countries and leads to untold distress for their families. Whilst not all patients die from their disease, patients whose cancer also involves the lymph nodes have a poor prognosis. Hormone therapy and chemotherapy have helped a number of patients and reduced the risk of relapse over the last two decades.

One treatment strategy for women with breast cancer has been an intense programme of chemotherapy, in combination with the patient's own bone marrow cells. High-dose chemotherapy, however, produces severe side-effects, such as prolonged suppression of blood cells, infection and bleeding. Researchers have focused their studies on high-dose chemotherapy both in patients whose cancer has spread to other organs, as well as high-risk patients at an early stage of the disease. "There were great expectations for high-dose chemotherapy, but evidence from a number of trials show that there are no real bene

Contact: Gracemarie Bricalli
European Society for Medical Oncology

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