NewsFrontiers in Cancer Therapy

When less is more

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Science  17 Mar 2017:
Vol. 355, Issue 6330, pp. 1144-1146
DOI: 10.1126/science.355.6330.1144

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For decades, cancer treatments have been given to patients continually at the maximum dose that can be tolerated. But a few labs are challenging that dogma. They are motivated by theoretical models of cancer growth and evidence from animal studies suggesting that briefly stopping or cutting back a drug dose can help keep the cancer cells from becoming resistant to the drug and can even trigger some cells to die, extending patients' lives. Periodically ceasing cancer therapy can also be less toxic for the patient. Trials are testing these new dosing strategies. Some stop the drug altogether, then restart it on a fixed schedule; others alternate high and low doses; and still others wait until the tumor has shrunk significantly before dialing down treatment.