By Rita Rubin April 3, 2012
It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes Dr. Jennifer Griggs’ hand trembles a bit when she prescribes “enormous” doses of chemotherapy drugs for obese breast cancer patients.
Those powerful drugs kill not only cancer cells but healthy cells as well. And that makes some doctors nervous, so they order chemotherapy doses based on patients’ ideal weight, not their actual weight.
But Griggs knows that such hesitation carries a high price: Up to 40 percent of obese cancer patients don’t get large enough chemotherapy doses, jeopardizing treatment of individual patients -- and the overall public health.
Now, Griggs and her co-authors, writing in the latest issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, have published new guidelines aimed at making sure even the heaviest cancer patients get the full treatment they need.