Some Breast Cancers Respond to Early Chemo

November 12, 2012

Some Breast Cancers Respond to Early Chemo

A new study states that some breast cancer patients respond better to chemotherapy before any other treatment is given. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy, as it is known, has been found to be effective if the patient has the BRCA1 gene mutation. The study investigated 317 patients suffering from breast cancer in varying stages whose treatment started with neoadjuvant chemotherapy. The results of the study have been published in the online edition of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Indications of breast cancer and cancer in the lymph nodes disappeared in 46% of the cases with BRCA1 gene mutation. Of those with a BRCA2 mutation, 13% found indications of cancer had disappeared and those with neither mutation showed that 22% had no evidence of cancer after treatment. Patients who experienced a complete pathological response (pCR), the name given for the disappearance of cancer, also had a better rate of remission. The improved five year rate of relapse free survival was seen in BRCA1 related patients, according to researchers from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

The study reports that 61 patients had breast conserving surgery and 256 had a mastectomy after receiving neoadjuvant chemotherapy.

The study also found that BRCA1 related tumors were dealt with by anthracycline and taxane based chemotherapy and they responded in a similar manner to sporadic breast cancers. Although hereditary breast cancers are normally more aggressive than sporadic breast cancers these findings permit doctors to assess the best treatment for that subset of patients with the BRCA1 mutations.

Because of a shortage of other studies on the same subject there are still doubts on what the most effective treatment for breast cancer is. Further rigorous research is required to allow for a consensus to form on what treatment is the most effective in each case. The present findings indicate that if the BRCA1 mutation is present then neoadjuvant chemotherapy is the best treatment. But lead author Dr. Banu Arun, a professor in the department of breast medical oncology said, ” However, we need future prospective studies with larger cohorts and longer-term follow up to validate these findings and determine optimum treatment”.

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