Some Breast Cancer Patients Could Skip Surgery, Study Suggests
(Medical Xpress)—If you have advanced stage breast cancer, one of the most promising cancer treatments in recent years may be a procedure called neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NACT) that uses a combination of drugs that are generally thought to be less toxic than some of the chemotherapies now available.
But a new study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, suggests that if doctors perform their chemotherapies early in the breast cancer treatment pathway, and before other cancer treatments are used, such as radiation or surgery, breast cancer patients in that situation may have increased treatment options and fewer side effects than if they were treated too late in the cancer treatment history.
The new study was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, and involves 15 women with Stage IV breast cancer. All were treated with NACT, which involves using drugs or combinations of drugs to lower the dose of the chemotherapies used before radiation or surgery to minimize side effects. The women were treated in four treatment cycles over the course of two to three weeks, and all were followed for five to six years.
When the study’s authors reviewed data from the first two cycles, 10 of the 15 patients had fewer side effects during the first cycle of NACT than the patients with the later, more traditional, treatment plan. Then, over the course of the eight cycles of NACT, three of the five patients with the most traditional treatment had a greater response to therapy, had less side effects, and had less cancer progression than the women with the later treatment plan.
“In this study we have evaluated a chemosensitizing regimen in a population of women who were at the advanced stages of breast cancer when they initiated this new treatment regimen and in all cases, they responded, had fewer side effects and disease progression than what is commonly reported in the literature, which compares chemosensitizing treatment regimens to conventionally treated women at the same stage of disease,” said Dr. Elizabeth Thompson, an assistant professor of medicine and senior author on the study.
“This is the first evidence that NACT may be beneficial at earlier stages of breast cancer and at the same time, is less toxic. This study is very good evidence that NACT may be a valuable therapeutic option for women who are not treated with mastectomy or