Posted on September 12th, 2011 by
Giving chemotherapy before breast-conserving surgery is as effective against breast cancer recurrence as giving chemotherapy after breast-conserving surgery. These results were presented at the 2011 Breast Cancer Symposium.
Breast-conserving surgery (also referred to as lumpectomy) involves removal of the breast cancer and some surrounding normal tissue. For some women, giving chemotherapy prior to surgery can shrink the cancer and make it easier to remove. There’s been some uncertainty, however, about whether chemotherapy followed by breast-conserving surgery is as effective against local-regional recurrence (cancer recurrence in or near the breast) as breast-conserving surgery followed by chemotherapy.
To evaluate whether risk of breast cancer recurrence varies by timing of chemotherapy, researchers collected information about roughly 3,000 women who underwent breast-conserving surgery and radiation therapy between 1987 and 2005. Roughly three-quarters of the patients underwent surgery first and the remaining patients underwent chemotherapy first. Women who received chemotherapy first tended to have cancers with worse prognostic features.
These results suggest that tumor characteristics—rather than the timing of chemotherapy—influence risk of breast cancer recurrence.
Reference: Mittendorf EA, Buchholz TA, Tucker SL et al. Impact of chemotherapy timing on local-regional failures in patients with breast cancer undergoing breast-conserving therapy. Paper presented at: 2011 Breast Cancer Symposium; September 8-10, 2011; San Francisco, CA. Abstract 82.
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