February 5, 2009

Understanding Dose-dense Therapy for Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and Breast Cancer

Dose-dense chemotherapy is a treatment approach where chemotherapy is administered as frequently as possible with the goal of delivering the greatest amount of chemotherapy over the shortest period of time, thereby delivering the maximum amount of chemotherapy drug to the cancer. Increasing the dose and frequency of chemotherapy administration appears to increase survival in some patients with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and breast cancer. Dose-dense treatment is given every two weeks rather than at the conventional three-week interval.

The frequent development of chemotherapy-induced neutropenia and accompanying complications has historically prevented chemotherapy from being administered more often than the standard three-week interval. Neutropenia is a condition characterized by abnormally low levels of neutrophils (a type of white blood cell) in the circulating blood. Because neutrophils help prevent and fight infection, a patient experiencing neutropenia is at increase risk of infection; chemotherapy schedules are thus interrupted unit neutrophil levels are restored.

Recent therapeutic advances in the treatment of neutropenia have allowed dose-dense chemotherapy to emerge as a more viable treatment option. Two drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the prevention of chemotherapy-induced neutropenia are Neupogen® (filgrastim) and Neulasta® (pegfilgrastim).

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Tags: Breast Cancer, Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, Uncategorized