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Chemo May Extend Survival After Breast Cancer's Return
Date:12/6/2012

THURSDAY, Dec. 6 (HealthDay News) -- In women with breast cancer that has recurred but remains confined to in or near the breast, post-surgical chemotherapy appears to boost survival, new research shows.

The study also found that patients with estrogen receptor (ER)-negative breast cancers -- tumors that are not reliant on estrogen -- were most responsive to this treatment.

It's well known that patients who experience a recurrence of local and/or regional (for example, nearby lymph nodes) breast cancer are at high risk for having their cancer spread to other areas of the body.

Some doctors administer chemotherapy to these patients after their recurrent breast tumors have been removed by surgery, but the efficacy of this treatment -- called adjuvant chemotherapy -- had not been studied until now.

"This is the first randomized controlled study that shows that adjuvant chemotherapy works in these patients," study author Dr. Stefan Aebi, head of the division of medical oncology at Luzerner Kantonsspital in Luzern, Switzerland, said in an American Association for Cancer Research news release.

The study was to be presented Thursday at the 2012 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

The study included 162 patients with isolated local and regional breast cancer recurrence: 85 received adjuvant chemotherapy and 77 did not.

According to the authors, five-year rates of disease-free survival (meaning the cancer did not return) were 69 percent in patients who got adjuvant chemotherapy compared to 57 percent for those who did not.

The overall survival rate was 88 percent for those who received adjuvant chemotherapy and 76 percent for those who did not.

Women with ER-negative breast cancer had the best results, with a five-year disease-free survival rate of 67 percent for those who received adjuvant chemotherapy and 35 percent for those who did not. Overall survival rates were 79 percent for those w
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