Monday, October 3, 2011

Study: Aggressive Bone Cancer Treatment

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This article talks about how British researchers have shown that high-dose chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant together are far more effective against the bone cancer multiple myeloma than standard chemo. Patients in the eight-year study who got the more intensive treatment usually survived a year longer. Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, spokesman for the American Cancer Society said, “A one-year increase in survival in a study like this is very significant.” Also, patients getting the more intensive treatment were five times more likely to have all traces of all cancer eliminated from their blood. Patients and doctors have believed that when it comes to cancer, more aggressive treatment is better. Earlier studies of high-dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplants for multiple myeloma were less rigorous and generally inconclusive. In other cancer like breast cancer, high-dose chemotherapy has been found no more effective than standard treatment. High-dose chemotherapy can be painful for patients. The cancer drugs kill healthy cells with the cancerous cells, which causes side effects. The study covered 401 patients age 65 or younger forth the United Kingdom and New Zealand. Patients were randomly assigned. The 100 getting standard chemotherapy received a combination of four cancer drugs at different times over a few weeks, then repeated this cycle every six weeks up to twelve times. The 101 other patients got at least three cycles of a similar treatment initially, then had their stem cells removed by having their blood pumped through a machine that filtered out those cells. The median survival time was 4.5 months for patients receiving standard therapy; that jumped to 54.1 months for those getting the more intensive treatment.

In my opinion, I think it is good that this new study has been done, because now doctors have a better way of treating people with bone cancer. I didn’t know that more aggressive treatment can only be helpful in bone cancer and not any other type of cancer. I never knew this type of treatment could virtually eliminate all traces of cancer in the blood. In the future, I hope scientists will find some kind of treatment that will be useful in any type of cancer. Researchers said that the aggressive approach proved so effective that it would be nearly impossible to find enough volunteers to take part in another head-to-head study of the two treatments. Participants would have to be willing to receive the standard therapy. This is my opinion on this article.

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