According to a recent article published in the journal Cancer, women with breast cancer who experience an isolated recurrence may achieve long-term survival with combined-modality treatment.
Breast cancer is responsible for approximately 40,000 deaths annually in the US alone. Among patients with breast cancer who receive initial therapy for their disease, a large portion may experience a recurrence. Patients who experience an isolated recurrence (a single area of cancer recurrence other than the site of their original cancer) and are able to have it surgically removed comprise a distinct class of breast cancer patients: stage IV- NED (no evidence of disease). The optimal treatment for patients with stage IV-NED is still being evaluated.
Researchers from the MD Anderson Cancer Center recently conducted a clinical trial to evaluate combined therapy and associated outcomes for patients with stage IV-NED breast cancer. This study included 26 patients who received surgery or radiation plus chemotherapy including Taxotere®-based regimens. At an average of 45 months follow-up, cancer-free and overall survival results are promising:
- The average overall cancer-free survival was nearly four years (44 months).
- At three years, overall survival was 87%.
- Cancer-free survival at three years was 58%.
Longer follow-up will reveal long-term survival rates for this group of patients. The only factor that appeared to affect survival rates was the number of positive axillary lymph nodes (lymph nodes under the arm that contained cancer), with a greater number of positive nodes associated with poorer survival.
The researchers concluded that treatment with surgery or radiation therapy plus Taxotere®-based chemotherapy appears to provide impressive long-term outcomes in patients with stage IV-NED breast cancer. Patients with isolated recurrences may wish to speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of combined-modality treatment.
Reference: Hanrahan E, Broglio K, Buzdar a, et al. Combined-modality treatment for isolated recurrences of breast carcinoma: Update on 30 years of experience at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and assessment of prognostic factors. Cancer. 2005; 104: 1158 – 1171.