May 14, 2009

Chemotherapy ups breast cancer survival

Chemotherapy in addition to the surgery or surgery and radiation improves survival among older women with breast cancer, U.S. researchers said.

Corresponding author Dr. Hyman Muss of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said the study was conducted with 600 women via the National Cancer Institute's Clinical Trials Cooperative Group Program.

The study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, compared a combination of chemotherapy drugs -- the standard treatment -- to a single drug in patients with early-stage breast cancer age 65 and older. The combination therapy provided significantly better outcomes than a single drug treatment.

For this trial, the standard chemotherapy consisted of either cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, and fluouracil or doxorubicin plus cyclophosphamide. The single drug was the oral drug, capecitabine.

The average age of a woman diagnosed with breast cancer is 63, but older women with breast cancer are often underrepresented in clinic trials, Muss said.