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Moving away from toxic treatments for breast cancer

UCLA Health Connect blog

Post Date:October 12, 2021 9:00 AM

A new paper nearly 15 years in the works argues for eliminating the class of chemotherapy drugs known as anthracyclines from standard treatment for curable breast cancer.

Dr. Sara Hurvitz
Dr. Sara Hurvitz is director of the Breast Clinical Research Center at the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.

UCLA Health oncologist Sara Hurvitz, MD, started working on the review analysis published online in the science journal Nature: Breast Cancer shortly after completing her fellowship in the early 2000s.

“The stack of papers was this high,” she says, holding her hand shoulder-height above her desk to illustrate the mountain of studies she pored over for the paper. “There have been thousands of articles and thousands of studies evaluating the use of this class of therapy for breast cancer. It’s a really rich data set.”

Anthracycline medications, such as Adriamycin (doxorubicin), have been routinely used in breast cancer treatment since the 1970s, despite serious and life-threatening potential side effects including heart failure and leukemia.

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