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Clin Cancer Res. 2005 Aug 1;11(15):5337-41.

Maintenance therapy to suppress micrometastasis: the new challenge for adjuvant cancer treatment.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Hong Kong, Professorial Block, Queen Mary Hospital, Pokfulam, Hong Kong. repstein@hku.hk

Abstract

The palliative efficacy of cytotoxic drugs is routinely assessed using tumor shrinkage (response) rates shown in clinical trials. Although adjuvant drug therapy has a goal distinct from that of palliative therapy (i.e., to prolong survival by inhibiting progression of micrometastatic disease), it is widely assumed that the adjuvant efficacy of a drug will parallel its response rate ("activity") in advanced stages of the disease. Reconsideration of this assumption seems timely in view of recent developments: the realization that many predictors of short-term tumor response correlate inversely with long-term survival outcomes; the characterization of tumor progression as a discontinuous process that may include dormant phases; the understanding that micrometastasis is therapeutically suppressible by a variety of mechanisms including direct tumor cell kill, cytotoxic disruption of paracrine growth signals from normal tissues, and targeted inhibition of prometastatic pathways; the recognition that tumor dormancy not only blocks the antimetastatic efficacy of cytotoxic drugs but also represents a therapeutic end point for metastasis-suppressive noncytotoxic drugs such as hormone inhibitors; and the insight that optimal adjuvant drug therapy is likely to include both induction and maintenance components. The traditional view of cytoreductive response as a prerequisite for adjuvant drug efficacy thus merits reappraisal, with a view to accelerating incorporation of novel noncytotoxic maintenance therapies into controlled studies.

PMID:
16061845
DOI:
10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-05-0437
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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