Chemotherapy is one of the primary methods of cancer treatment, utilized to kill cancerous cells and stop the continued spread of the disease. However, a new study is raising questions about the effectiveness of chemo, suggesting that, in some instances, it could be doing as much harm as it is good. This research could provide much-needed financial assistance for cancer patients in the form of less treatment.
Researchers recently published a study that explored the impact of chemotherapy for breast cancer patients. Breast cancer is among the forms of the disease most impacted by metastasis, or the spread of cancer cells to other parts of the body, which can significantly increase the patient’s risk of death. While chemo was found to be effective in killing tumor cells, researchers also found a number of unintended outcomes.
As the chemo attacks the cells, it was also found to activate a repair mechanism that in some instances could allow tumors to ultimately reform. It also facilitates a process known as intravasation, which scientists likened to the development of gateways that introduce cancer cells to other parts of the body.
Currently, most breast cancer patients undergo chemotherapy before any attempts at surgery, but the research suggests some alternate approaches. Researchers proposed breast cancer patients should be monitored in the beginning stages of chemo, with tumor tissue extractions after a few doses to identify any spread of the cancer. If so, chemo should be discontinued in favor of surgery, the researchers said.
The study was focused on breast cancer, but researchers plan to expand the scope to see if the results are similar for other forms of cancer.
While chemo may typically be the first line of defense for cancer patients, the study points to the need for alternative approaches. Financial assistance for breast cancer patients can increase their ability to consider other options, which ultimately can improve their prognosis.