New Chemotherapy Combinations and Treatments
Different combinations of treatment for early-stage breast cancers are now being studied. A new combination of chemotherapy drugs, Tax-otere and Cytoxan (or TC), works as well as the standard Adriamycin and Cytoxan, and is easier on the heart, according to a recent study. TC is being used in early stage breast cancer patients who are at high risk for recurrence. Its effectiveness is still being investigated.
In the April 2009 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, a study indicated that Taxol, given weekly, improved disease-free survival rates and Taxotere, given every three weeks, showed improved survival. Later studies showed Taxol given after Adriamycin and Cytoxan only helped patients whose tumors were HER-2 positive or estrogen-receptor negative, and did little to tumors that were HER-2 negative and estrogen-receptor positive.
Studies suggest that hormone therapies, such as tamoxifen and raloxifene, which cut off the supply of estrogen to tumors that are receptive to the hormone, lower the risk for developing breast cancer in postmenopausal women.
Newer drugs called aromatase inhibitors — Arimidex (anastro-zole), Aromasin (exemestane), and Femara (letrozole) — are being looked at to see if they, too, can fight estrogen-sensitive cancers. These drugs are currently being used to prevent cancer recurrence in an adjuvant role.
Dose-dense chemotherapy is also being researched. This is what it sounds like — giving chemotherapy more often. In this study, it's every two weeks, as opposed to the usual every-three-weeks dosing, to see if it works better in preventing recurrence. Clinical trials are underway to study the role of dose-dense chemotherapy in adjuvant situations.
Patient participation in clinical trials will advance breast cancer treatment options by allowing newer drugs and combinations of drug therapies to be studied.