Breast Cancer Treatments Improve Survival After Recurrence
Posted Apr 20 2011 10:14am
The scientific and medical communities have made amazing strides over the years in regards to the development of better breast cancer treatments. Numerous studies have shown that these new breast cancer treatments have resulted in a much improved survival rate after first developing breast cancer and a decreased risk of breast cancer recurrence. However, it is less clear whether these new treatments have successfully improved survival of patients who's breast cancer recurs.
A new Japanese breast cancer study ( free to download ) examined the impact of the use of aromatase inhibitors and trastuzumab on survival after breast cancer recurrence. The study investigators evaluated the survival rates of 407 breast cancer patients based on when breast cancer recurred and treatments use. The patients were divided into two goups. Group A patients were diagnosed with breast cancer recurrence between 1992 and 2000, a time when aromatase inhibitors and trastuzumab were not commonly available for treatment use. Group B patients were diagnosed with breast cancer recurrence between 2001 and 2008; three-fourths of these patients were treated with aromatase inhibitors and/or trastuzumab. Associations between survival, recurrence time, and treatment use were analyzed. The study investigators reported
Average survival time after recurrence was substantially higher (4.2 years) in Group B patients (patients diagnosed with recurrence between 2001 and 2008) compared to Group A patients (1.7 years).
3-year survival rate was 28% in Group A and 61% in Group B.
5 year survival rate was 12% in Group B and 41% in Group B.
Survival was greater in Group B breast cancer patients for all sub-types of breast cancer with the exception of breast cancers that were both hormone receptor negative and HER-2 negative.
Overall, this study clearly indicates that the development and use of breast cancer treatments like aromatase inhibitors and trastuzumab has indeed improved the survival of breast cancer patients that have the unfortunate experience of developing a second breast cancer. Not only did the use of these treatments improve the number of years breast cancer patients survived, but it also appears to have increased the number of breast cancer patients who survived to certain time points. While these new results are probably not surprising (we would certainly hope that new treatments would improve survival!), it is comforting to see proof of the benefits of these breast cancer treatments.