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Estrogen Inhibitors Improve Breast Cancer Surgery Options

Posted Jun 15 2010 7:43am
Breast cancer therapies can be grouped based upon when they are given .  Adjuvant breast cancer therapy is given after the primary treatment, while neoadjuvant breast cancer therapy is given before the primary breast cancer treatment.  One of the main purposes of neoadjuvant breast cancer therapy is to reduce breast cancer tumor size prior to surgery in an attempt to improve breast cancer surgery outcomes.  While neoadjuvant breast cancer therapy appears to be a reasonable approach that has been shown to be effective in some studies, this form of breast cancer therapy is reportedly under-utilized due to uncertainties regarding appropriate drug choices and a lack of experience.

A new breast cancer study , the results of which were presented at the 2010 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology earlier this month, tested the effectiveness of neoadjuvant breast cancer therapy under different surgical conditions with different aromatase inhibitors, drugs typically used in neoadjuvant breast cancer therapy.  For this study, estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer patients were classified as (1) marginal for breast conservation therapy, (2) candidates for mastectomy only, or (3) inoperable.  Breast cancer patients in this study were treated with one of three aromatase inhibitors (exemestane, letrozole, or anastrozole) for 16 weeks in order to determine if tumors could be shrunk enough to make breast conservation surgery more feasible.

The results of this study showed that
  • All three aromatase inhibitors were equally effective at reducing tumor size with breast cancer tumor size being reduced by about 60-70%.
  • Neoadjuvant breast cancer therapy with aromatase inhibitors resulted in successful breast conservation surgery in 78% of breast cancer patients originally classified as marginal.
  • 42% of breast cancer patients originally classified as eligible for only mastectomy were able to get breast conservation therapy.
  • Three of the four breast cancer patients classified as inoperable at the start of the study received breast conservation therapy after the 16-week neoadjuvant therapy.
These are excellent and exciting research results.  Overall, these results suggest that using aromatase inhibitors as neoadjuvant breast cancer therapy might slow breast cancer development and reduce tumor size.  This allows for the possibility of less dramatic surgical procedures to remove the tumor and improved surgical and overall breast cancer outcomes.  This study suggests that neoadjuvant breast cancer therapy with aromatase inhibitors is an effective pre-surgical approach to breast cancer treatment that will likely allow for more personalized breast cancer treatment options based on each patients response to the neoadjuvant therapy.   Furthermore, these breast cancer study results indicate that neoadjuvant breast cancer therapy might need to become a more utilized breast cancer treatment strategy.

While approaches to treat breast cancer continue to be developed and become more effective, it is important to also do everything we can to reduce the chances of getting breast cancer.  Read my book Fight Now: Eat & Live Proactively Against Breast Cancer to learn what you can do.
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