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Front Pharmacol. 2013 Jun 25;4:68. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2013.00068. eCollection 2013.

Is it time for a new paradigm for systemic cancer treatment? Lessons from a century of cancer chemotherapy.

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1
Cancer Biology Research Laboratory, Southern Connecticut State University New Haven, CT, USA.

Abstract

U.S. SEER (Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results) data for age-adjusted mortality rates for all cancers combined for all races show only a modest overall 13% decline over the past 35 years. Moreover, the greatest contributor to cancer mortality is treatment-resistant metastatic disease. The accepted therapeutic paradigm for the past half-century for the treatment of advanced cancers has involved the use of systemic chemotherapy drugs cytotoxic for cycling cells (both normal and malignant) during DNA synthesis and/or mitosis. The failure of this therapeutic modality to achieve high-level, consistent rates of disease-free survival for some of the most common cancers, including tumors of the lung, colon breast, brain, melanoma, and others is the focus of this paper. A retrospective assessment of critical milestones in cancer chemotherapy indicates that most successful therapeutic regimens use cytotoxic cell cycle inhibitors in combined, maximum tolerated, dose-dense acute treatment regimens originally developed to treat acute lymphoblastic leukemia and some lymphomas. Early clinical successes in this area led to their wholesale application to the treatment of solid tumor malignancies that, unfortunately, has not produced consistent, long-term high cure rates for many common cancers. Important differences in therapeutic sensitivity of leukemias/lymphomas versus solid tumors can be explained by key biological differences that define the treatment-resistant solid tumor phenotype. A review of these clinical outcome data in the context of recent developments in our understanding of drug resistance mechanisms characteristic of solid tumors suggests the need for a new paradigm for the treatment of chemotherapy-resistant cancers. In contrast to reductionist approaches, the systemic approach targets both microenvironmental and systemic factors that drive and sustain tumor progression. These systemic factors include dysregulated inflammatory and oxidation pathways shown to be directly implicated in the development and maintenance of the cancer phenotype. The paradigm stresses the importance of a combined preventive/therapeutic approach involving adjuvant chemotherapies that incorporate anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant therapeutics.

KEYWORDS:

adjuvant; anti-inflammatory; anti-oxidant; chemotherapy; drug resistance; neoplasm; tumor microenvironment

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