Cancer Patients Get Weak Doses of Chemo


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(CNN) — Nearly 1,000 patients in Canada got lower-than-intended doses of chemotherapy drugs, a provincial government agency said Tuesday.

Cancer Care Ontario said that patients at four hospitals were affected — London Health Sciences Centre, Windsor Regional Hospital, Lakeridge Health and Peterborough Regional Health Centre.

The problem, which involved cyclophosphamide and gemcitabine, was discovered late last month.

Cyclophosphamide is typically used to treat cancer of the ovaries, breast, blood and lymph system, while gemcitabine can be used in the treatment of breast, ovarian, pancreatic and lung cancers.

“Cancer Care Ontario and its regional cancer programs are deeply committed to the safety of chemotherapy treatment for both patients and healthcare providers,” Dr. Carol Sawka, vice president of clinical programs and quality initiatives, said in a statement.

“It’s important to note that chemotherapy preparation and delivery is a complex process and as a result of this complexity, there are sources for potential error. In Ontario, we have put in many steps to minimize these potential sources of error and we will continue to ensure that patient safety and high quality care are the focus and the strength of the system.”

The drugs in question were bought by the hospitals from a supplier that produces and labels the medications, according to Cancer Care Ontario. The agency did not name the supplier.

Affected patients and their families are being notified of the error this week.

CNN’s Dana Ford, Miriam Falco and Elwyn Lopez contributed to this report.

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