Monday, August 25, 2008

Recurrence Unlikely for Five-Year Breast Cancer Survivors

news you may not knowIt's Better Than I Thought...

A cancer diagnosis is often the first step into a world of uncertainty. And, of course, the most significant questions swirl around survival. But, until now, doctors have had little ability to give reasonable answers to the survival questions of cancer patients.

A new study sheds light on the issue for five-year breast cancer survivors.

As reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, researchers at M.D. Anderson tracked women treated at their facility between 1985 and 2001. The study followed over 2,800 women who were cancer free at the five-year mark. These women had undergone surgery and radiation to remove the tumor, and then received follow-up treatment with either chemotherapy or hormone therapy, or the two in combination.

The researchers were pleasantly surprised with the results. Women with stage I breast cancer had a post five-year recurrence rate of 7 percent. Those women with stage II breast cancer had a post five-year recurrence rate of 11 percent, and women with stage III breast cancer had a rate of 13 percent.

Prior to this study doctors had no substantive data upon which to answer the question of recurrence rates. Now they believe they can provide women with accurate feedback. They also believe the recurrence rates are much lower than most women had previously suspected.

The study did not assess the most recent cancer treatments, including aromatase inhibitors and Genentech's Herceptin.

So, this is good news for breast cancer survivors. It appears your odds of beating the odds are looking up.

To read more about the study, see this from Reuters. To learn more about all aspects of breast cancer, see this from


Blogger PharmacistMike said...

The results are promising. What we do need is more real life data on survival. One big question to answer is the effect of regional/specialized cancer centers, such as M.D. Anderson on the success of outcomes. I would imagine that these centers give better care than you local community hospital. However, the insurance companies won't allow people to go to these regional centers. I really didn't feel comfortable in local centers for my cancer care and would have rather gone to a center considered more as experts in my particular case.

5:58 AM  
Blogger tim said...


Thanks for the note. And, yes - I agree. A solid comparison in outcomes between local care centers and specialized cancer care centers would be extremely beneficial. Studies with other conditions consistently show that experience and specialization yield superior outcomes, and I'm sure it would show the same here.

Thanks again for stopping by - hope you're doing well,


9:34 AM  
Blogger PharmacistMike said...

I am doing well. Thanks.

It is interesting. For instance, there are 8000 new cases of testicular cancer in the U.S. per year and there are 8800 Board Certified Urologists. Just looking at the math means some urologists rarely see a patient with TC. A good reason to seek care at more specialized facilities.

Thanks Again,


11:21 AM  
Blogger tim said...


Glad to hear you're doing well.

Your statistics are quite instructive. And, it just seems to make sense that the more often a physician or surgeon deal with an issue, the more skilled they'll be.

Take care,


5:54 PM  

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