Antidote for chemotherapy allergy allows cancer patients to receive medicine safely

Antidote for chemotherapy allergy allows cancer patients to receive medicine safely

MILWAUKEE – New research findings may be the cure for cancer patients who have developed allergies to chemotherapy treatment. In a study to be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Mariana C. Castells, MD, Phd, and colleagues at Brigham Women’s Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston unveil new data demonstrating the success and safety of rapid desensitization. The treatment allows nearly all patients to temporarily tolerate the chemotherapy drugs to which they previously experienced allergic reactions. The standardized procedure takes four to eight hours and involves administering the targeted dose of medicine to patients in incremental steps. Of 98 patients tested during a total 413 desensitization treatments, 94 percent had no reaction or only mild reactions from the medication. No life-threatening reactions or deaths occurred during the study. Patients studied were primarily women receiving treatment for breast, ovarian or other gynecologic cancers. During the study, patients were successfully desensitized to seven common chemotherapy drugs: carboplatin, cisplatin, oxaliplatin, paclitaxel, liposomal doxorubicin, doxorubicin and rituximab. Previous studies have indicated that up to 27 percent of patients receiving more than seven cycles of some common chemotherapy drugs develop allergic sensitivity to the medication. With some drugs, many patients experience a reaction on their first exposure. The reactions can be severe and potentially fatal. This presents healthcare professionals and patients with a paradoxical challenge: continue potentially life-saving treatment while risking a deadly allergic reaction or avoid the life-threatening reaction by switching to a less-effective drug? This new research offers a third option. Brigham Women’s Hospital has already adopted the standardized rapid desensitization. Researchers hope other institutions will follow suit. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology is the official scientific journal of the AAAAI and is the most-cited journal in the field of allergy and clinical immunology. The AAAAI represents allergists, asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals and others with a special interest in the research and treatment of allergic disease. Established in 1943, the AAAAI is the largest professional membership organization in the United States dedicated to the allergy/immunology specialty. The AAAAI has nearly 6,500 members in the United States, Canada and 60 other countries. Posted 6.3.08

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