Posted on March 8th, 2009 by
Some women with early breast cancer remain at a substantial risk for developing a cancer recurrence years following therapy. These results were recently published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Early breast cancer refers to cancer that has not spread to distant sites in the body. Fortunately, following standard therapy for early breast cancer, cure rates remain high. However, a portion of patients with early breast cancer will experience a recurrence several years following therapy. Identification of factors associated with recurrences among these patients will allow for individualized therapeutic choices and/or stricter screening for recurrences.
Researchers from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center recently conducted a clinical study to explore the risks associated with recurrences several years following therapy for women with early breast cancer. The study included 2,838 patients with Stages I-III breast cancer who were treated with systemic (full-body) therapy between 1985 and 2001 and who had no sign of cancer five years following the beginning of their therapy.
The researchers concluded: “Breast cancer patients have a substantial residual risk of recurrence, and selected tumor characteristics are associated with late recurrences.” Overall, however, the risk of late recurrences remains low for patients with early breast cancer, and improved therapies may affect these outcomes. Nonetheless, it remains important to identify factors that may increase a patient’s risk for a recurrence so that therapy and monitoring may be individualized appropriately.
Reference: Brewster A, Hortobagyi G, Broglio K, et al. Residual risk of breast cancer recurrence 5 years after adjuvant therapy. Journal of the National Cancer Institute [early online publication]. August 11, 2008. DOI: 10.1093/jnci/djn233.
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