New Canadian study demonstrates clear survival benefit of treatment in trials and at large centres

Hamburg, Germany: A new Canadian study has found that breast cancer patients who were treated according to accepted standards of care or who took part in clinical trials were from 30% to 60% less likely to die from any cause during a seven-year follow up period.

Lead researcher Dr Nicole Hbert-Croteau told the 4th European Breast Cancer Conference today (Friday 19 March) that the findings confirmed the assumption that breast cancer patients benefited from taking part in clinical trials. Treatment in centres that dealt with large numbers of cases was also associated with better survival.

Dr Hbert-Croteau and her team studied 1,727 women with early node-negative breast cancer in five regions of Quebec over a median follow up period of nearly seven years. The regions covered over 60% of the population of the province. Of the 57 hospitals taking part, 16 were involved in collaborative clinical trials during part or whole of the 1988-1994 study period. Larger centres treated more than 100 women a year with breast cancer, the medium sized centres treated between 50 and 100 and small centres treated fewer than 50.

The overall survival among all the women in the study at seven years was 82%. But, when measured against women in the study who had not been treated according to accepted guidelines and who had not taken part in research, patients whose treatment followed the guidelines had 0.7 times the risk (or 30% less likelihood) of dying from any cause during the follow up period while women who had taken part in research had 0.4 times the risk (or 60% less likelihood) of dying in the follow up period.

Dr Hbert-Croteau, a consultant physician and epidemiologist at the Quebec National Institute of Public Health, said: "There is some overlap in the confidence intervals of these figures so, from a statistical point of view, the 60% could not be interpreted as being different from the 30%. And of course, the better outcome for women treated in c

Contact: Margaret Willson
Federation of European Cancer Societies

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