Frequent Low Dose Chemotherapy May Be More Effective Treating Cancer

Study suggests low dose chemotherapy that controls tumor growth instead of eradicating the disease may be a more effective long term treatment.

Continual low-dose chemotherapy that controls the growth of cancer could have better affects than high-dose chemotherapy that seeks to destroy cancerous cells, according to a study published in the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Although chemotherapy is seeks to eliminate cancer, the drugs are toxic and result in killing off cancerous cells as well as healthy cells. Furthermore, it kills drug-sensitive tumor cells while leaving the drug-resistant cells, which results in fueling tumor growth.

A new evolution-based treatment was developed by Pedro Enriquez-Navas and his team. This treatment stabilizes the tumor by maintaining a small amount of drug-sensitive tumor cells that halts the growth of drug resistant cells.

Researchers used the chemotherapy drug paclitaxel on 2 mouse xenograft models with different types of breast carcinoma.

The results of the study showed that the standard form of chemotherapy using maximum tolerated doses were able to shrink the tumors, but would grow back after treatment had stopped. A regimen that skips doses after the tumor decreased experienced tumor progression.

The most effective form of treatment was the use of high drug doses initially and then progressively lowering the doses as the tumor shrank, which controlled tumor growth.

Approximately 60% to 80% of mice who received this adaptive therapy were able to be weaned off the drug entirely without any relapses for an extended period of time.