Many cancer patients have suffered unnecessarily because researchers believed large doses of anticancer drugs were necessary for efficient treatment. The widely held view was that to be effective in reducing tumour size, cancer chemotherapy must also be toxic:(1) only then did doctors think they had given sufficient drug. The idea was based on animal experiments (1,2) yet there were early warning signs that patients survived longer when given comparatively nontoxic doses, even though the drugs had a smaller effect on tumour size.(3)
The high dose concept has been challenged by clinical researchers. During the 1960s, a series of statistical studies by the Rosewell Park Memorial Institute for Cancer Research in New York, concluded that toxicity is not necessary and can be counterproductive.(2) In 1976, London cancer specialists found that the animal data on which the high dose concept is based, are not always valid for human patients.(1) They argued that "Since patients given large doses of antineoplastic (anticancer) agents are often at greater risk of toxicity, alternative methods of improving the selectivity of cancer chemotherapy must be explored."
1) M.H.N.Tattersall & J.S.Tobias, Lancet, 1976, November 13, 1073-1074.
2) I.D.Bross, Perspectives On Animal Research, 1989, vol. 1, 83-108.
3) M.A.Schneiderman & M.J.Krant, Cancer Chemotherapy Reports, 1966, vol.50, 107-112.
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