Chemotherapy advances improve breast cancer survival

In collaboration with the Press Association

Advances in chemotherapy have improved survival rates and reduced recurrence rates for some types of breast cancers, says new research.

The improved outlook was found among women with advanced breast cancers whose tumours were oestrogen receptor (ER) negative ? that is, tumours that were not encouraged to grow by the hormone oestrogen.

About one in five breast cancers are ER-negative. Women with ER-positive cancers have benefited in recent years from the introduction of hormone treatments like tamoxifen and anastrozole.

The new research shows that women with ER-negative tumours are also benefiting from new research and better treatment regimes.

The study was carried out by the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in the US and is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Lead researcher Dr Eric Winer said the study emphasised the need to view cancer as a variety of different diseases that needed different treatments.

"Our observations add to a growing body of evidence that breast cancer is not one homogeneous disease, but rather a disease with many subtypes and requires a variety of new treatment approaches," he said.

The study was drawn from past research spanning 20 years and involving more than 6,600 cancer patients.

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