Breast Cancer: Risk Remains Years Later
10 Years After Drug Treatment, 1 in 5 Patients Relapses
WebMD News Archive
Good News for Some Patients
There was some good news in the study results for women who have breast
cancers that do not rely on estrogen to grow.
These estrogen-receptor (ER) negative tumors are less common than
hormone-sensitive tumors, and they are considered more deadly.
But the study showed that some women with ER-negative tumors who survived
for five years after initial treatment actually had a better prognosis than
women with hormone-sensitive tumors.
"These tumors are certainly more aggressive early on, but the outlook is
good for women with these tumors who survive for five years," Brewster
says. "We can now tell these women that their risk for developing a
recurrence is lower than for women with ER-positive tumors."
American Cancer Society deputy chief medical officer Len Lichtenfeld, MD,
tells WebMD that the findings highlight the benefits of treating ER-negative
women with intensive chemotherapy.
"There has been some discussion about whether aggressive treatment makes
a difference, and this study supports the view that it does," he says.
Lichtenfeld agrees that additional treatment options are needed for all
cancer survivors, including those treated for estrogen-sensitive tumors who
complete five years of hormone-targeting therapy.
"The jury is still out on what we need to be offering women who have
finished five years of adjuvant treatment," he says. "What this study
tells us is that these women still have a residual risk of recurrence that is