Breast Cancer :: Doctors able to predict chance of breast cancer returning

Doctors have created a first-ever computer tool to predict the risk of breast cancer returning in the same breast over a 10-year period in women who have had breast conserving surgery to remove only the cancer (lumpectomy), according to a study presented November 6, 2006, at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology’s 48th Annual Meeting in Philadelphia.

“Our tool provides physicians with information regarding the risk of breast cancer returning in the same breast for any individual patient, which can then help them evaluate the potential benefit of additional treatments needed to cure the cancer, including radiation therapy,” said Mona Sanghani, M.D., lead author of the study and an oncologist at Tufts-New England Medical Center in Boston. “This predictive tool, however, must be validated by independent clinical data before it is widely used.”

For patients with early stage breast cancer, the current standard treatment involves breast conserving surgery followed by radiation therapy to the breast over a six to eight week period to kill any remaining cancer cells.

Researchers developed a formula that takes into account all of the risk factors associated with breast cancer coming back in the same breast after breast conserving surgery, such as the age of the patient at the time of treatment, the size and grade of the cancer, if lymphatic vessels are affected, and the use of chemotherapy or hormone therapy. With the help of a Web-based computer tool, doctors are able to determine by this formula how much a patient will be at risk for their cancer returning, along with how much a patient will benefit from radiation therapy.

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