Women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer appear to have a better rate of survival if they get both chemotherapy and surgery more quickly after receiving their diagnosis. This is according to two new large US-based studies.
“We are not taking about providing care in days, but a woman should not have to wait months,” explains Harvard University researcher Dr. Eric Winer.
The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute director of the breast program goes on to say, “We need to reinforce for doctors that delays could be a problem for some patients and that, in any case, timely care could not be bad.”
Data shows that most women who have breast cancer will typically have some kind of surgery. This might include a lumpectomy to remove only the malignant tissue (sparing the rest of the breast) or a mastectomy (removal of the entire breast). Following surgery, data also says that many will undergo chemotherapy in an attempt to rid the body of any remaining abnormal cells.
“In an unselected cohort, there is a modest overall response rate; however, there are signs of more activity in subgroups, like triple-negative breast cancer,” explains lead study investigator Luc Y. Dirix, with the Department of Medical Oncology, Sint-Augustinus Hospital, Oosterveldlaan, Wilrijk, Belgium. Dirix continues, “In patients with triple-negative disease with PD-L1 in immune cells this led to a response in four out of nine patients.”
Finally, lead study author Dr. Richard Bleicher shares: “This is critical information because nearly every patient asks either `how long do I have before I have to schedule surgery’ or `can I do X, Y or Z before I begin my treatment?’”
The Fox Chase Cancer Center breast clinical program leader continues, “This study provides information on the survival cost of adding delay so that patients and their physicians can make an informed decision about what their level of urgency should be.”