April 18, 2007 -- Getting chemotherapy before breast cancer surgery may help some patients avoid mastectomy, according to a new research review.
Patients with early-stage breast cancer should talk to their doctors about the risks and benefits of getting chemotherapy before breast cancer surgery, note the researchers.
They included J.S.D. "Sven" Mieog of the surgery department at Leiden University Medical Center in Leiden, Netherlands.
The reviewed studies included a combined total of 5,500 women with early-stage breast cancer in the U.S., Europe, Canada, Japan, U.K., Russia, and Lithuania.
The researchers randomly assigned the patients to get chemotherapy before or after breast cancer surgery. The follow-up time varied among the studies, ranging from 1.5 years to about 10 years.
Survival rates were similar for the presurgery and postsurgery chemotherapy groups. That includes overall survival and survival without breast cancer's return.
However, the women who got chemotherapy before breast cancer surgery were less likely to get mastectomy than those who had chemotherapy after breast cancer surgery.
The review shows no increase in side effects with presurgery chemotherapy. In fact, the presurgery chemotherapy patients were slightly less likely to have serious infections during the studies.
The review appears online in The Cochrane Library.