Women who get breast cancer before the age of 40 tend to develop more aggressive tumors that are harder to treat. Using chemotherapy in some of these younger patients, however, may not provide much benefit to their survival, according to a study from researchers at Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands. Opting for other treatments, such as those that stop tumor cells from responding to estrogen may end up being more effective for this group of patients.
The study revealed that younger women with breast cancer cells that are estrogen-receptor-positive (ER+), the most common type of breast cancer, did not respond to chemotherapy as well as young patients with estrogen-receptor-negative (ER-) cells. This means that young ER-positive tumor patients may be enduring the negative side effects of chemotherapy for no real benefit.
If you’re a younger woman diagnosed with hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer, "talk to your doctor about this study," recommends breastcancer.org. "Depending on your unique situation, chemotherapy may still be an important part of your treatment plan. Together, you and your doctor can develop the treatment plan that’s best for you."
van der Hage, JA et al, 2007. "Efficacy of Adjuvant Chemotherapy According to Hormone Receptor Status in Young Patients with Breast Cancer," Breast Cancer Research. http://breast-cancer-research.com/content/9/5/R70/abstract
Breastcancer.org, 2007. "Some Breast Cancers Don’t Respond to Chemotherapy."
Breastcancer.org, 2007. "What Role do Hormones Play in Breast Cancer Treatment?"
Science Daily, 2007. “Young Women Suffering from Breast Cancer Do Not Necessarily Benefit from Chemotherapy.” http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071011065357.htm
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