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Scaling back cancer treatment can help some patients without compromising outcomes, studies find

Chemotherapy drugs are administered to a patient at a hospital
Chemotherapy drugs are administered to a patient at a hospital Copyright AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File
Copyright AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File
By Euronews with AP
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Multiple studies showed that less intensive treatment may lead to better outcomes.


Some cancer patients may have better outcomes with less intensive treatment, according to several new studies.

Research presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology conference in Chicago looked at ovarian and oesophageal cancer and Hodgkin lymphoma.

It's part of a trend of studying whether less surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation can help patients to live longer and feel better.

Decades ago, cancer research was instead about doing more, but researchers are now asking if all the treatment is needed.

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 Nelson of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, who was also not involved in the new research.

Avoiding surgery for ovarian cancer patients

French researchers, for instance, found that patients with advanced ovarian cancer could avoid having their lymph nodes removed without it impacting their survival outcomes.

The study compared the results for 379 patients. Half had their lymph nodes removed and half did not.

There was no difference after nine years 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.

Chemotherapy, surgery and radiation for oesophageal cancer

A German study looked at 438 people with a type of cancer of the oesophagus that can be treated with surgery.

Half received a common treatment plan that included chemotherapy and surgery on the oesophagus, the tube that carries food from the throat to the stomach.

Half got another approach that includes radiation too.

After three years, 57 per cent of those who got chemo and surgery were alive, compared to 51 per cent of those who got chemo, surgery and radiation.

It was funded by the German Research Foundation.


Chemotherapy for Hodgkin Lymphoma

Chemotherapy can cure Hodgkin lymphoma, which is a cancer of the lymphatic system, but patients may have severe side effects.

A new study showed that a novel less intensive chemotherapy treatment cured the cancer "more effectively and with fewer side effects than the established intensive chemotherapy regimen".

The study included 1,482 people from nine countries.

It was funded by Takeda Oncology, the maker of one of the drugs used in the gentler chemo that was studied.

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