Chemotherapy Drug: Helpful or Harmful?
A certain type of chemotherapy drugs is currently being looked at more closely, owing to the fact that a study seems to indicate that its advantages are outweighed by the risks that are associated with it – at least in some patients.
The chemotherapy drug in question is called anthracyclines, and it is a class of drugs that has been around since the 1960s. It is a drug that is generally used for the standard treatment of breast cancer. The results of a study presented by researchers from the Breast Cancer International Research Group at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, however, seem to show that there may be a need to revisit current treatment practices and resort to the more frequent use of newer drugs as opposed to anthracyclines.
Anthracyclines have been known to be effective against breast cancer; however, among its side effects is damage to the heart, more so if it is used in conjunction with Herceptin from Roche Holding AG. Herceptin is said to be a highly effective medication used on women suffering from HER2-positive cancer, which is considered as an aggressive form of cancer.
The study consisted of observations gathered from more than 3,200 patients suffering from HER2-positive cancer. One group was placed on a treatment plan that consisted of Herceptin and anthracyclines, while another group was on a plan that combined Herceptin with non-anthracycline drugs. Yet another group was placed exclusively on an anthracycline-only treatment plan.
The ten-year study reportedly noted that the two groups who received Herceptin in addition to other drugs were “significantly more likely to remain alive”. However, it was also noticed that among those who received anthracycline drugs with Herceptin, there were more cases of heart damage, congestive heart failure and leukemia.
Still, there are experts who do not see these findings as enough reason to change the current standard of care.Tags: cancer drug, cancer medication, cancer treatment, chemotherapy drug