Cancer might be better controlled by administering low-doses of chemotherapy drugs rather than using toxically high doses that damage the body but still allow drug-resistant tumour cells to spread, a study has suggested.
An experiment on mice with breast cancer has shown that the conventional approach to cancer treatment, where high doses are used in the hope of killing off all cancer cells, may be counterproductive in terms of long-term survival.
The study found that aggressive treatment produces the best short-term results but is more likely to result in the return of the cancer compared to using lower doses that also result in fewer side-effects, scientists said.
Pioneering cancer treatment could protect the body for life
Current cancer treatments often involve aggressive treatment with high doses chemotherapy in an attempt to wipe out as many tumour cells as possible with ultimate aim of a cure.
But complete eradication of metastatic cancer is rare, and the toxic side effects of chemotherapy can be highly destructive - not only leading to hair loss, nausea and extreme fatigue, but also crippling the body's immune system or triggering anaemia.
Some scientists believe that this conventional treatment allows drug-resistant cancer cells to survive the treatment and with no other cancer cells to compete with they can quickly replicate and return as a far more aggressive form of cancer.
The new approach, known as adaptive therapy, allows non-aggressive tumour cells to survive and they compete with the drug-resistant cells, so preventing the return of a far more dangerous disease, scientists said.
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