© 2005-2012 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). All rights reserved worldwide.
The study: Researchers from the Children's Oncology Group (COG) looked at whether giving chemotherapy to patients with Ewing's sarcoma every 2 weeks instead of every 3 weeks was more effective. The current standard treatment for patients with Ewing's sarcoma that has not spread past the bone or nearby tissues is chemotherapy every 3 weeks with a combination of drugs, as well as surgery and/or radiation therapy.
The 568 patients in this study were younger than 50 and had not yet been given radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Treatment with chemotherapy began approximately 13 weeks before surgery and/or radiation therapy and continued until the patients received a total of 14 cycles of chemotherapy. Half (284) of the patients received chemotherapy every 2 weeks, and the other half received chemotherapy every 3 weeks.
The results: Chemotherapy every 2 weeks was more effective than chemotherapy every 3 weeks and did not increase the side effects. After approximately three years, 76% of patients who received chemotherapy every other week were still alive and had not experienced a recurrence (cancer that comes back after treatment) or a new cancer, compared with 65% of patients who received chemotherapy every 3 weeks. The incidence and severity of side effects was similar between the two groups. Of the patients who received chemotherapy every other week, 7% had fever with a low white blood cell count, compared with 6% of patients who received chemotherapy every 3 weeks. About 5% of patients in both groups experienced infection.
What this means for patients
“The results of this study are strong enough to change the standard of care for Ewing's sarcoma that has not spread,” said lead author Richard B. Womer, MD, Senior Oncologist and Professor of Pediatrics at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. “This study shows that progress against Ewing's sarcoma can be made by giving commonly used chemotherapy in new ways.”
What to ask your doctor
- What treatment do you recommend? Why?
- What are the possible side effects of this treatment?
For more information