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Women with breast cancer may benefit from autologous stem cell transplantation
Date:1/12/2010

Compared to conventional chemotherapy, autologous stem cell transplantation can extend "event-free survival" for breast cancer patients. Clinical trials provide proof of this for breast cancer with and without distant metastases. However, there are indications that this type of stem cell transplantation can more frequently give rise to severe complications affecting almost all organ systems. This is the conclusion of the final report of the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG) published on 16 December 2009.

In autologous stem cell transplantation (autologous SCT), the patient's own (autologous) haematopoietic stem cells are removed at a suitable time during treatment and re-implanted after high-dose chemotherapy. Initially, this treatment was hailed with great excitement and widely used in the 1980s, but its benefit for patients with advanced breast cancer has been hotly debated by scientists for some years. The Federal Joint Committee (G-BA) therefore commissioned IQWiG to examine the available literature to find out whether autologous SCT could have advantages for breast cancer patients compared to conventional chemotherapy.

Many different treatments exist

Comprising over 25% of new cases of cancer, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer for women. Men are also affected in a rare number of cases. The choice of treatment depends on the stage at which the tumour is diagnosed. Two factors that play an important role are its size and spread. Also of relevance is whether distant metastases, i.e. secondary tumours, are present in other parts of the body.

Usually, the tumour is surgically removed. Depending on the therapy regimen, this is supplemented by radiotherapy, hormonal therapy or chemotherapy. In particular, hormonal therapy and chemotherapy are frequently combined in this treatment.

Doctors will introduce high-dose chemotherapy in certain patients at the locally advanced or
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Contact: Dr. Anna-Sabine Ernst
info@iqwig.de
49-022-135-6850
Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care
Source:Eurekalert

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