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Advances in chemotherapy improve outcomes in select breast cancers

Boston-- Recent advances in chemotherapy have significantly reduced the risk of disease recurrence and death in breast cancer patients whose tumors are not hormone sensitive, according to a study by researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and 10 other institutions. The findings will be reported in the April 12 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The researchers found that breast cancer patients whose disease had spread to the lymph nodes and was estrogen-receptor-negative (ER-negative) and who were received adjuvant treatments with modern chemotherapy had a much greater improvement in their five-year disease-free survival rate (22.8 percent) than those patients with hormone sensitive tumors (ER-positive) who were treated with the same chemotherapy and tamoxifen (7 percent). The improvement in overall survival rate with the newer chemotherapy regimens was 16.7 percent for ER-negative patients and 4 percent for ER-positive patients.

"Our observations add to a growing body of evidence that breast cancer is not one homogeneous disease, but rather a disease with many subtypes and requires a variety of new treatment approaches," said Eric Winer, MD, the paper's senior author and director of Dana-Farber's Breast Oncology Center.

Winer and his colleagues conducted a retrospective analysis of three large national breast cancer studies that collectively spanned 20 years and involved more than 6,600 patients to assess the cumulative benefits associated with contemporary chemotherapy regimens. These patients had been enrolled in three consecutive studies for patients with node-positive breast cancer conducted by the Cancer and Leukemia Group B, a National Cancer Institute funded cooperative group. They compared the disease-free and survival rates across the three studies for breast cancer patients with ER-negative tumors who were treated with chemotherapy. They did the same for patients with ER-positive tumors who were treated
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Contact: Bill Schaller
william_schaller@dfci.harvard.edu
617-632-5357
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
11-Apr-2006


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