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"Chemo regimen found inferior"

Globe and Mail

Source: Globe and Mail

Published: 18 Dec 2021

Category: Pharmaceutical

Rating: (3½ stars)

what they said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

There are significant differences in breast-cancer recurrence rates depending on the type of chemotherapy that women undergo, new Canadian research reveals.

The study, a head-to-head comparison of the two common chemotherapy regimes and an experimental treatment, is expected to prompt a reassessment of treatment, particularly in younger women who suffer from one of the most aggressive forms of breast cancer.

Almost three years after treatment, about 90 per cent of women remained cancer-free on two of the regimes -- including a Canadian-developed regime more commonly used in this country -- compared to 85 per cent with the third....

The original article can be found at:

how did it rate? (more information)

Criteria Rating
Total Score 6 of 9
Availability of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Novelty of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Disease Mongering Satisfactory (?)
Treatment Options Satisfactory (?)
Costs of Treatment Not Applicable
Evidence Satisfactory (?)
Quantification of Benefits of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Harms of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Sources of Information Not Satisfactory (?)
Relies on Press Release Not Applicable
Quantification of Harms of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)

what we said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

This is a report from the annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium of a head-to-head trial of three chemotherapy regimes for women under the age of 60 who had lymph node-positive breast cancer. The patients had undergone surgery and then chemotherapy, assigned randomly to one of three different treatments.

The story scores well in reflecting the fact that the absolute differences, in terms of tumour recurrence, were about 5%

Not so well is the quantification of side effects or adverse effects such as "chemo brain" which we learn is more prevalent in patients taking the AC/T, a combination of doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide but we don't learn how much more prevalent it is.

We don't either learn much about the availability or cost of the competing treatments in Canada with the exception that CEF, a combination of cyclophosphamide, epirubicin and fluorouracil is commonly used in Canada. We can excuse the lack of cost information, as these drugs would be administered in hospital and cost is covered by Medicare.

One statement seems somewhat curious, where the oncology professor says:
"Even the best treatment is far from perfect. It didn't save all the women." This is curious because he is referring to survival and the test, as reported, was measuring tumour recurrence. The lead researcher actually reminds us of this point: It is "still not clear whether survival rates improve."

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