Cancer Patients Often Do Better With Less Intensive Treatment, Research Finds

June 3, 2024by Carla K. Johnson, Associated Press
Cancer Patients Often Do Better With Less Intensive Treatment, Research Finds
In this May 25, 2017 file photo, chemotherapy drugs are administered to a patient at a hospital in Chapel Hill, N.C. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File)

Scaling back treatment for three kinds of cancer can make life easier for patients without compromising outcomes, doctors reported at the world’s largest cancer conference.

It’s part of a long-term trend toward studying whether doing less — less surgeryless chemotherapy or less radiation — can help patients live longer and feel better. The latest studies involved ovarian and esophageal cancer and Hodgkin lymphoma.

Thirty years ago, cancer research was about doing more, not less. In one sobering example, women with advanced breast cancer were pushed to the brink of death with massive doses of chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants. The approach didn’t work any better than chemotherapy and patients suffered.

Now, in a quest to optimize cancer care, researchers are asking: “Do we need all that treatment that we have used in the past?”

It’s a question, “that should be asked over and over again,” said Dr. Tatjana Kolevska, medical director for the Kaiser Permanente National Cancer Excellence Program, who was not involved in the new research.

Often, doing less works because of improved drugs.

“The good news is that cancer treatment is not only becoming more effective, it’s becoming easier to tolerate and associated with less short-term and long-term complications,” said Dr. William G. Nelson of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, who was also not involved in the new research.

Studies demonstrating the trend were discussed over the weekend at an American Society of Clinical Oncology conference in Chicago. Here are the highlights:

OVARIAN CANCER

French researchers found that it’s safe to avoid removing lymph nodes that appear healthy during surgery for advanced ovarian cancer. The study compared the results for 379 patients — half had their lymph nodes removed and half did not. After nine years, there was no difference in how long the patients lived and those with less-extreme surgery had fewer complications, such as the need for blood transfusions. The research was funded by the National Institute of Cancer in France.

ESOPHAGEAL CANCER

This German study looked at 438 people with a type of cancer of the esophagus that can be treated with surgery. Half received a common treatment plan that included chemotherapy and surgery on the esophagus, the tube that carries food from the throat to the stomach. Half got another approach that includes radiation too. Both techniques are considered standard. Which one patients get can depend on where they get treatment.

After three years, 57% of those who got chemo and surgery were alive, compared to 51% of those who got chemo, surgery and radiation. The German Research Foundation funded the study.

HODGKIN LYMPHOMA

A comparison of two chemotherapy regimens for advanced Hodgkin lymphoma found the less intensive treatment was more effective for the blood cancer and caused fewer side effects.

After four years, the less harsh chemo kept the disease in check in 94% of people, compared to 91% of those who had the more intense treatment. The trial included 1,482 people in nine countries — Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Australia and New Zealand — and was funded by Takeda Oncology, the maker of one of the drugs used in the gentler chemo that was studied.

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

A+
a-
  • Cancer
  • In The News

    Health

    Voting

    Health

    Majority of Americans Favor Forgiving Medical Debt, AP-NORC Poll Finds

    NEW YORK (AP) — Janille Williams wants to buy a house someday — but first, he has to pay down... Read More

    NEW YORK (AP) — Janille Williams wants to buy a house someday — but first, he has to pay down tens of thousands of dollars in medical debt. “I was hospitalized for a blood infection for three months more than ten years ago, and the bill... Read More

    Oversight Hearing on Illegal E-Cigarettes Highlights Dire Need for Reform of the FDA

    The Senate deserves credit for holding a recent hearing that underscored the failure of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for... Read More

    The Senate deserves credit for holding a recent hearing that underscored the failure of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products to provide clear and fair regulatory pathways for smoke-free tobacco products that provide Americans with less harmful alternatives to combustible cigarettes. This hearing follows... Read More

    June 17, 2024
    by Anna Claire Miller
    Biden Campaign Redoubling Effort to Keep Abortion Rights Front of Mind for Voters

    WASHINGTON — With the second anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade fast approaching, the Biden-Harris... Read More

    WASHINGTON — With the second anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade fast approaching, the Biden-Harris campaign is organizing volunteers to share what they’ve experienced since that ruling went into effect. Decided on June 24, 2022, Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization... Read More

    Drug Shortages Keep on Growing. Older, Injectable Medicines Among the Most Vulnerable

    Erin Fox has tracked drug shortages for more than 20 years, and she sees no easy solutions for what has... Read More

    Erin Fox has tracked drug shortages for more than 20 years, and she sees no easy solutions for what has become a record run. Total active shortages hit an all-time high of 323 in this year’s first quarter, according to the University of Utah Drug Information... Read More

    Surgeon General Asks Congress to Require Warning Labels for Social Media, Like Those on Cigarettes

    The U.S. surgeon general has called on Congress to require warning labels on social media platforms similar to those now mandatory... Read More

    The U.S. surgeon general has called on Congress to require warning labels on social media platforms similar to those now mandatory on cigarette boxes. In a Monday opinion piece in the The New York Times, Dr. Vivek Murthy said that social media is a contributing factor in... Read More

    June 17, 2024
    by Jesse Zucker
    How the Ocean Improves Mental and Physical Health

    WASHINGTON — June 20 marks the first day of summer, and there’s nothing like a day by the ocean to... Read More

    WASHINGTON — June 20 marks the first day of summer, and there’s nothing like a day by the ocean to ring it in. In the spirit of the changing season, we’ll discuss how being near or in the ocean can improve mental and physical health. The... Read More

    News From The Well
    scroll top