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CMF Chemotherapy: As Less-expensive and Non-toxic Breast Cancer Chemotherapy Treatment

Less-expensive breast cancer treatment, CMF breast cancer chemotherapy, breast cancer treatment

The Finding of a Less-expensive and Non-toxic Breast Cancer Chemotherapy Treatment

Combination strategies have become the dominant practice in alternative medicine. The need for combination strategies has arisen out of clinical observations that single-agent alternative therapies for breast cancer are rarely successful (Broffman & McCulloch). Researchers said that the finding of the less-toxic form of adjuvant chemotherapy may lessen the adverse effects include including hair loss, nausea, vomiting and neutropenia, plus increased risks of congestive heart failure and acute leukemia, that is associated with the intensive regimen of Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Ellence (epirubicin) and Adrucil (Fluorouracil), a regimen known as CEF. Kathleen Pritchard M.D., of the Toronto Sunnybrook Regional Cancer Center said that Adriamycin (doxorubicin) is what is usually used in the US rather than Ellence. This less-expensive chemotherapy treatment can be used by women with node-positive breast cancer, with HER2 gene that is not amplified in the tumor and HER2 protein that is not over-expressed. In the May 18 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Pritchard and colleagues reported that women could opt for the less-expensive and non-toxic regimen of Cytoxan, Methotrexate and Adrucil (Fluorouracil), a regimen known as CMF.

CMF is a combination of three chemotherapy drugs for treatment of breast cancer. (Cancerbackup) This treatment is widely used by the medical field around the world as a back-up to surgery and radiotherapy in preventing breast cancer cells from recurring. This supports the explanation of Dr. Harold Burstein M.D., Ph.D., that even if a breast cancer is removed completely, there is still a risk that cancer cells have broken away from the tumor and spread to other parts of the body.

The name CMF is derived from the initials of the chemotherapy drugs that are used which are the C-cyclophosphamide, M-methotrexate and F-fluorouracil, which is also known as 5-FU. (Cancerbackup)

The CMF Chemotherapy Breast Cancer Treatment

In the administration of these three cancer drugs, there are different schedules used in the treatment:

The first is the Oral CMF treatment. This schedule is given to a patient as a combination of tablets and injection. The patient is given cyclophosphamide in the course of tablets, which she will be taking every morning for the first 14 days of every month. The methotrexate and Fluorouracil or 5-FU drugs are given in the form of injection or by an intravenous drip on the first and 8th day of each monthly cycle (Prof. Rick Kefford MB BS PhD FRACP, Director of Westmead Institute for Cancer Research)

The Intravenous CMF treatment, is the second schedule that is commonly used where the three drugs cyclophosphamide, methotrexate and fluorouracil (5-FU) are given to the patient intravenously (intravenous drip) on the first day of the 21-day cycle. (Prof Rick Kefford MB BS PhD FRACP, Director of Westmead Institute for Cancer Research)

However you have the treatment, it is most common to have 6 cycles of CMF (CancerHelp UK).

CMF Chemotherapy Common Side Effects

Cancerbackup noted possible side-effects of CMF chemotherapy treatment:

A condition where the patient suffers from loose and watery stools more than three times a day

This effect of a low blood cells count often makes the patient feel tired and breathless

The most common side-effect of CMF is fatigue, but after 6 months or more of treatment, patients usually will feel their energy back

Feeling sick
Patients taking cyclophosphamide tablets will feel nausea and vomiting. Their doctors will give them anti-sickness tablets that they can take at home to prevent this feeling of sickness

Getting bruises more easily
The effect of a drop in platelet counts causes blood to clot that patients will have bruises and small red spots in their arms and legs. A nose and gum bleeding may also occur.

Gritty eyes and blurred vision
In this side-effect, the doctor can prescribe soothing eye drops for relief

Loss of Appetite and change of taste
Patient will suffer change of taste that looses the appetite, but the normal taste will return after treatment

Hair Loss
Patient may either have mild thinning of the hair or complete hair loss. After the treatment, the hair normally grows back again

Irritation of the bladder
There is a tendency that the bladder will be irritated by cyclophosphamide. Patient should drink plenty of water during this time to help

Sore mouth and ulcers
The mouth becomes dry during treatment that creates ulcers. Patient should drink plenty of water and should observe regular cleaning of the teeth and mouth. There are special mouthwashes and medicine for relief that the doctor can prescribe to avoid mouth infection.

Skin changes
There is a possibility that patient’s skin may darken and rashes will develop. Since the patient will be more sensitive to sunlight during the treatment period, the use of sunblock and sun protection cream is advisable when going out.

Additional Information

These additional and relevant information are gathered from sources site which may be of help to breast cancer patients undergoing the CMF Chemotherapy Treatment:

1.The risk of blood clots. Cancer can increase a patient’s risk of developing a blood clot (thrombosis) and having chemotherapy may increase this risk further. A blood clot may cause symptoms such as pain, redness and swelling in the leg, breathlessness and chest pain. It is important to tell the doctor right away. (The McMillan & Cancerbackup Cancer Information Source)

2.Other medicines. Some other medicines can be harmful to take when having chemotherapy. The doctor must know if the patient is taking non-prescribed drugs such as complementary therapies and herbal drugs. Some painkillers, such as ibuprofen can make the side effects of CMF chemotherapy worse. (The McMillan & Cancerbackup Cancer Information Source)

3.Methotrexate slows cell turnover by suppressing the immune system. It can be taken by pill or injection. Patients taking methotrexate must be closely monitored because it can cause liver damage and/or decrease the production of oxygen-carrying red blood cells, infection-fighting white blood cells, and clotenhancing platelets. (Psoriasis.

4.According to an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine, adding Anthracyclines to the chemotherapy regimen known as CMF improves survival compared to CMF alone in the treatment of early breast cancer.

5.The CMF chemotherapy regimen can be given into a vein (intravenous, called IV CMF) or with oral cyclophosphamide plus IV methotrexate and 5-FU (termed oral or classic CMF). Most doctors consider oral CMF to be more effective than the all- IV version. ( Burstein, MD PhD)


i.e.: Burstein, Harold, M.D. May 25, 2009.
Cancerbackup. May 26, 2009.
Prof Kefford Cancer Information Site. May 27, 2009.
Psoriasis. May 27, 2009.
Poole CJ, Earl HM, Hiller L, et al. Epirubicin and cyclophospamide, methotrexate and fluorouracil as adjuvant therapy for early breast cancer. New England Journal of Medicine. 2006
Michael Broffman, LAc and Michael McCulloch, MPH, Lac. May 27, 2009.
MedPage Today; HER2 Status can refine Breast Cancer Chemotherapy Decisions; Reviewed by Zalman S Agus M.D; Emeritus Professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine; May 2006
Published: 2009-05-28
Author: Tonette Fornillos

About the author or the publisher
Tonette is a freelance writer. On top of her writing, she plans events that has a lot to do with life and nature encouraging to utilize God-given talents for free. This is where she takes all the inspiration to write.

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