Preliminary results of a landmark clinical trial, at the University of Chicago, have found that paclitaxel (Taxol), when given in addition to standard chemotherapy, improved patients survival by 26%, and reduced the risk of recurrence by 22%. This finding is one of the most significant advances in the treatment of Stage II breast cancer in the past 20 years. Italian researchers have reported the successful use of chemotherapy to shrink large breast tumors to a size where they can be removed surgically in a procedure that avoids the trauma of mastectomy.
Dr. Gianni Bonadonna and colleagues at the National Tumor Institute in Milan, found that in 85% of 536 women with tumors 2.5 centimeters or larger in diameter, preoperative chemotherapy could shrink the tumor to permit breast-sparing surgery. After successful treatment with cancer-killing drugs, the women underwent surgery that removed about a quarter of their breast tissue and underarm lymph nodes.
The surgery was followed by postoperative radiation to kill cancer cells. The women also received further chemotherapy if evidence of cancer was found in the nodes. Within eight years after treatment, 45% of the women had experienced a relapse of their cancer, a result better than that usually achieved when women with large tumors undergo standard mastectomy and postoperative chemotherpay, the researchers report in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Bonadonna said he and colleagues now are examing the effectiveness of preoperative chemotherapy in a scientifically designed research study. While advanced breast cancer used to be a death sentence, today this is not necessarily so if proper treatment is obtained. We have made tremendous strides in learning how to help the patient with later breast cancer. Choosing the correct treatment can literally make the difference between life and death. It is critical to get the proper treatment, which the gives peace-of-mind of knowing that everything possible has been done to help ensure a happy outcome.
The Cancer Group Institute's material explains, in Plain English, the historic and latest effective treatment for later breast cancer, including results. We describe surgery, radiation treatments and chemotherapy, as well as hormone therapy and bone marrow transplant options. We tell you everything you need to know to help you make the right choices today.