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Chemotherapy is as effective before breast cancer surgery as after
Date:9/8/2011

San Francisco, CA - Whether chemotherapy is given before or after breast-conserving therapy (BCT) does not have an impact on long-term local-regional outcomes, suggesting treatment success is due more to biologic factors than chemotherapy timing, according to a study by researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Presented today at the 2011 Breast Cancer Symposium, the study also found that neoadjuvant chemotherapy (given before surgery), often shrinks breast cancer tumors, making them more likely to be treatable with BCT, or a lumpectomy to remove a portion of the breast followed by radiation.

"Even women who present with clinical Stage 2 or 3 breast cancer may have good results with BCT after chemotherapy and not need a mastectomy," said Elizabeth Ann Mittendorf, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Surgical Oncology and lead author of the study. "The molecular characteristics of the tumor and other factors have an impact on treatment success, but not the order in which chemotherapy and surgery are given."

The retrospective study of almost 3,000 women treated for breast cancer at MD Anderson from 1987 to 2005 also confirmed several prior studies showing BCT offers high rates of cancer control for certain patients.

Approaches have similar outcomes

Of the patients surveyed, 78 percent had surgery before chemotherapy and 22 percent received chemotherapy first. Overall, women with more cancers that had more adverse prognostic factors tended to be treated with chemotherapy first.

Five and 10-year local-regional recurrence-free survival rates were excellent for both groups: 97 percent and 94 percent respectively for those who had surgery before chemotherapy, 93 percent and 90 percent for patients who received chemotherapy first.

Mittendorf said that if adverse features, such as stage and grade of the cancer, age of the patient and tumor hormone expression, were f
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Contact: Laura Sussman
lsussman@mdanderson.org
713-745-2457
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert

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