THERAPEUTIC REVOLUTION The History of Medical Oncology from Early Days to the Creation of the Subspecialty

Indexed in: EBSCO.

Cancer is a disease responsible for several million annual deaths among humans, worldwide. However, advances in healthcare - which include breakthroughs in science and medicine as well as access to ...
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Breast Cancer: 2. A Paradigm for Solid Tumor Chemotherapy

Pp. 130-145 (16)

Pierre R. Band


In the early 1960s, breast cancer was considered to be poorly responsive to chemotherapy. However, several agents, in particular methotrexate, vincristine, 5- fluorouracil, cyclophosphamide, an alkylating agent synthesized in Germany, and prednisone were found to be active in women with metastatic breast cancer. These five drugs were then used in advanced breast cancer in a combination referred to as the “Cooper regimen” that triggered a number of studies using quadruple and quintuple chemotherapeutic drug combinations which induced response rates superior to therapy with single agents. These results led to the integration of combination chemotherapy into a combined modality approach, epitomized by modern ʻadjuvantʼ chemotherapy. A first randomized study comparing long-term postoperative single drug chemotherapy to a placebo led to improved survival in a subset of patients. Superior results were subsequently achieved with postoperative combination chemotherapy. The historical development of these approaches is described.


Breast cancer, single agent chemotherapy, combination chemotherapy, postoperative (ʻadjuvantʼ) chemotherapy.


Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec H3G 1Y6, Canada.