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Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania have reported that Her2/neu-positivity does not appear to increase the risk of local recurrence in women with stage I-III breast cancer who have been treated with breast conserving therapy. These results were presented at the 45th annual meeting of the American Society of Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology held in Atlanta GA, Oct 2-7, 2004.

The optimal strategy for treatment of women with localized breast cancer who do not have cancer spread to the axillary lymph nodes has not been identified and continues to be a topic of research. However, it is clear that without adjuvant therapy, a significant number of women with node-negative breast cancer will relapse. Determining factors that are associated with a higher risk of relapse can improve the ability to choose optimal adjuvant therapy. For patients who have hormone receptor-positive cancer, anti-estrogen therapy is usually administered. For women who have hormone receptor-negative cancer, chemotherapy is usually given. Research has shown that patients who overexpress the oncogene Her2/neu have an increased risk of cancer recurrence and Her2-positive cancer may be associated with a poorer response to hormonal therapy compared to Her2-negative cancer.

The recent University of Pennsylvania study was a retrospective review of the medical records from women treated for stage I or II breast cancer between 1993 and 2000. There were a total of 288 patients involved, 202 (70%) were Her2-negative and 86 (30%) were Her2-positive. Five years after treatment, there was no significant difference between the groups in recurrence rate, survival, relapse-free survival, and cancer spread (see table).

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Reference: Harris ER, Hwang W, Lee EA, et al. The Impact of Her2/neu Status on Local Recurrence in Women with Stage I-II Breast Cancer Treated with Breast Conservation Therapy. Proceedings from the 46thannual meeting of the American Society of Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology, held in Atlanta, GA, Oct 2-7, 2004; Abstract #10.

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