Taxane Chemotherapy is Effective in Treatment of Advanced Breast Cancer, but Shows Little Difference between Different Regimens
A study presented at the European Society for Medical Oncology has indicated that a type of chemotherapy agent called taxanes are an effective first-line treatment for advanced breast cancer, and that three different treatment regimens used were just as effective as each other. They study also found that where the regimens are different is in their side-effects, with some having more of some side effects than others. This means that the doctor can discuss with the patient the various pros and cons of the treatments without having to worry that one will be less effective in treating the cancer than others.
Taxanes are a type of chemotherapy agent that is often used in the treatment of advanced breast cancer. They are sometimes used instead of other chemotherapy drugs called anthracyclines, as anthracyclines can be very damaging to a patient’s heart. Recently, a study was released which examined the differences between three different chemotherapy regimens that use taxanes as part of the treatment to see if any showed better long-term survival outcomes. A regimen is a term used to describe different ‘sets’ of drug amounts and administration frequencies. This study was looking at three different regimens of treatment, and 414 people were randomly divided up into three groups. The three groups were given slightly different types and amounts of drugs, given at different intervals. The researchers then recorded how many of the patients were still alive 22 months later. They also recorded how much their quality of life had improved, as well as any side effects experienced.The study found that all groups showed significant improvements in their quality of life after treatment and overall all three were well tolerated. It also found that regardless of which of the three treatment regimens they were on, the survival rate was pretty much the same. The costs of the treatment, the amount of people whose disease responded to treatment, and the time it took for the disease to progress and get worse were also almost the same in all groups.Where the three differed from each other was in their side-effects, with one regimen having more effect on the levels of white blood cells, and another having more effects on the nervous system. One regimen caused greater hair loss, while another one caused more irritation of the mucous membranes of the body (such as the inside of the mouth). There were also differences in the amount of times people had to go into hospital. What this means is that these different side-effects can be discussed with a patient, and they can be given a choice about which treatment they would like, knowing that it will probably have little negative effect on their long-term survival.It should be pointed out that the study was not perfect and has drawn some criticism, with one doctor saying that the study did not contain enough people. He also said that the addition of Herceptin, another drug used in the treatment of breast cancer, after the study had begun may have altered the results.However, the doctors who ran the study found their results strong enough to say that taxanes are a good first-line treatment for advanced breast cancer if the doctor does not want to use anthracyclines.