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Fox Chase researchers recommend updating the staging criteria for breast cancer diagnoses
Date:7/9/2014

New findings from Fox Chase Cancer Center paint a relatively optimistic picture of women's chances of surviving a subset of breast cancers that have spread to the chest wall or skin, but not beyond.

Tumors that grow into the skin, regardless of size and whether they have involved lymph nodes, are automatically classified as stage III and called "locally advanced" tumors, suggesting that they are a relatively serious form of cancer, often with poor survival. Locally advanced breast cancers of this and other types account for five to ten percent of new breast cancer diagnoses in the United States, and sixty to seventy percent of cases worldwide. Now, in a recent issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, Fox Chase scientists cast doubt on that standard classification, by showing that women with breast cancers involving the skin have widely varied survival rates which differ by tumor size and nodal involvement.

"Many women with tumors that happen to have spread to the skin may unfortunately be given an inaccurately dire prognosis along with, perhaps, some unnecessary treatment," says Richard J. Bleicher, MD, FACS, Associate Professor in the Department of Surgical Oncology and Director of the Breast Fellowship Training Program at Fox Chase Cancer Center. "We need to update our staging criteria to more accurately reflect a woman's true chances of surviving her cancer because the size of her tumor and the involvement, or lack of involvement, of lymph nodes tells us more about her prognosis than whether skin is involved."

Within the group of tumors that have spread to the skin, there is much variety, both in size and whether or not they have spread to the lymph nodes; since these tumors occur relatively rarely, however, scientists have struggled to understand how that heterogeneity might impact survival. In this study, Bleicher and his colleagues looked at the SEER-Medicare Linked Database. They focused on patient
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Contact: Diana Quattrone
Diana.Quattrone@fccc.edu
215-728-7784
Fox Chase Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2 3

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