Making Sense Out of Too Much Noise

The Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program has recently received research results from funded research and placed a research highlight on our home page.

The highlight is entitled “Making Sense Out of Too Much Noise: Information is Power in Breast Cancer Treatment.” Please send the research highlight below, or its link: http://cdmrp.army.mil/highlights/default.htm#1, to those interested in recent research achievements in breast cancer treatments.

Making Sense Out of Too Much Noise: Information is Power in Breast Cancer Treatment

John Simes, M.D. and Davina Ghersi

National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Clinical Trials Centre, Australia

Funded by the DoD Breast Cancer Research Program

In the information age, we expect answers to queries to be as close as our fingertips and the internet, but clinicians and breast cancer patients can be bewildered by the treatment options.

Evidence from clinical trials is available, but its quality varies and there are many different treatments and different types of breast cancer. To help with the decisions daily facing clinicians and women with metastatic breast cancer, a team of researchers at the NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre in Australia have tackled the collage of information that overwhelms the treatment picture.

They systematically reviewed and integrated the available evidence on how various treatment regimens affect survival, toxicity, and quality of life. The reviews have answered several questions a woman or a doctor might ask about treatment options.

Overall, the reports laid the foundation for new ways of thinking and decision making in cancer treatment. They showed the effectiveness of endocrine (hormone) treatment and the benefit of combination chemotherapy regimens (two or more drugs rather than one).

Their reviews of different intensities of chemotherapy show that the amount or the duration of the therapy might not be as important as the suitability of the selected drug itself. The investigators also directly sought the input of women with breast cancer, especially through their web site (http://www.ctc.usyd.edu.au/cochrane/).

A barrage of information can be considered only noise. The group is determined to make sense out of the cacophony and better inform treatment decisions, thereby lending hope to women with breast cancer.

Publications:

Wilcken N, Hornbuckle J and Ghersi D. Chemotherapy alone versus endocrine therapy alone for metastatic breast cancer (Cochrane Review). 2004. In: The Cochrane Library, Issue 3. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Carrick S, Ghersi D, Wilcken N, Simes J. Platinum containing regimens for metastatic breast cancer (Cochrane Review). 2004. In: The Cochrane Library, Issue 3. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Ghersi D, Wilcken N, Simes J, Donoghue E. Taxane containing regimens for metastatic breast cancer (Cochrane Review). 2004. In: The Cochrane Library, Issue 3. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Farquhar C, Basser R, Hetrick S, Lethaby A, Marjoribanks J.. High dose chemotherapy and autologous bone marrow or stem cell transplantation versus conventional chemotherapy for women with metastatic breast cancer (Cochrane Review). 2004. In: The Cochrane Library, Issue 3. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Carrick S, Ghersi D, Wilcken N, Simes J. Single versus combination chemotherapy for metastatic breast cancer. (Cochrane Review). 2004. In Press: The Cochrane Library, Issue 4. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Lord S, Ghersi D, Wilcken N, Simes J. Anti-tumour antibiotic containing regimens for metastatic breast cancer. (Cochrane Review). 2004. In Press: The Cochrane Library, Issue 4. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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