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More than half of women receiving chemotherapy for breast cancer don't receive the full recommended dosage, according to a new study. The most common reason for this was neutropenia.


By reviewing the records of 20,799 women with early stage breast cancer, researchers found that 56% of women received less than 85% of their prescribed chemotherapy dose intensity. Previous studies have showed that receiving less than 85% of the recommended chemotherapy dosage is associated with lower survival rates.


A treatment delay of at least 1 week accounted for 25% of the failure to receive the full dose intensity. Dose reductions accounted for another 37%.


The study, undertaken to assess treatment practices nationwide, surveyed 1,243 community oncology practices. Patients at highest risk for inadequate treatment were older or overweight women, those receiving three-drug combinations, and those on a 28-day schedule.




"Incidence and Predictors of Low Dose-Intensity in Adjuvant Breast Cancer Chemotherapy: A Nationwide Study of Community Practices," Journal of Clinical Oncology, G. Lyman, et al., December 15, 2003.