Long or short which chemotherapy treatment plan is best for breast cancer patients?

13 friends for life: Long vs short term chemotherapy

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - When it comes to chemotherapy treatment the standard treatment in the United States is every two weeks but a new study out of Europe finds every three weeks can be just as effective.

Women who are faced with a breast cancer journey want to get through it as safely and in some cases as fast as possible. That's one of the reasons why for the past 15 years women who need chemotherapy treatment have been treated every two weeks. But a new Swedish study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association may change that.

"This is a very interesting trial." Dr. Thomas Gribbin is the medical director for Mercy Health Lacks Cancer Center in Grand Rapids. "They compared 1,000 women getting chemo on an every two weeks schedule with a 1,000 women getting it on an every 3 weeks schedule. The results were very similar between the two groups and what that means is that the likelihood of the cancer coming back was low in both groups."

With that new information Dr. Gribbin say it gives women something to consider when making a decision about their chemotherapy treatment, "Reasons to give the two weeks schedule is to be done a month early. And that's important to some women. Reasons to give the three week schedule is that we can skip some of the other medications that we would give to support the white blood cell count. So it represents a less expensive alternative."

Dr. Gribbin says this study opens up the opportunity for women to discuss with their doctors their preference and for doctors to consider which path is best for their patients, "The doctors who administer that treatment really focus on getting them through it safely. This is one more way to look at that. Can we change the time schedule to do it more safely?"

As with most research there is more work to do. Dr. Gribbin says he would like to see if there are some women who would do better with the shorter versus the longer chemotherapy treatment schedule.

(© 2016 WZZM)


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