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High-Dose Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer

William J. Gradishar, MD; Martin S. Tallman, MD; and Jeffrey S. Abrams, MD
[+] Article and Author Information

From Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois, and the National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland. Acknowledgment: The authors thank Vicky James for assistance in preparing this manuscript. Grant Support: By 17-96-2-6013 from the Department of Defense (Dr. Gradishar) and R21 CA 64487-01 from the National Cancer Institute. Requests for Reprints: William J. Gradishar, MD, Robert H. Lurie Cancer Center, Northwestern University, 233 East Erie, Suite 700, Chicago, IL 60611. Current Author Addresses: Drs. Gradishar and Tallman: Northwestern University, 233 East Erie, Suite 700, Chicago, IL 60611.


Copyright ©2004 by the American College of Physicians


Ann Intern Med. 1996;125(7):599-604. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-125-7-199610010-00010
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The role of high-dose chemotherapy in the management of women with breast cancer remains one of the most controversial issues in oncology. During the past decade, numerous pilot studies have shown the feasibility of administering high-dose chemotherapy followed by autologous bone marrow transplantation or peripheral blood stem-cell transplantation (referred to as high-dose chemotherapy) to women with metastatic disease. However, it appears that survival improves in few treated patients. This treatment strategy is now being evaluated in the adjuvant setting in patients who are at high risk for developing recurrent disease. The National Cancer Institute has selected two randomized, adjuvant breast cancer trials for its High-Priority Clinical Trials Program. These trials are comparing conventional-dose chemotherapy with high-dose chemotherapy in patients in the early stages of breast cancer who are at high risk for disease recurrence.

This paper focuses on the rationale for the randomized studies evaluating adjuvant high-dose chemotherapy in the early stages of breast cancer and reviews the efforts to overcome physician and patient biases so that the trials can be completed.

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