New findings by scientists in America could help more women avoid mastectomies by undergoing chemotherapy before having surgery for breast cancer.
The study, by researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, found that whether chemotherapy is given before or after ‘breast-conserving therapy’ (BCT) does not have an impact on long term outcomes.
It also found that treatment given before surgery often shrinks the tumours, resulting in them being more likely to be treatable with BCT or a lumpectomy followed by radiation, rather than a mastectomy.
The study looked at 3,000 women treated for the disease and 78 per cent had surgery before the chemotherapy and 22 per cent afterwards.
Five and 10-year recurrence-free survival rates were excellent for both groups: 97 per cent and 94 per cent respectively for those who had surgery first and 93 per cent and 90 per cent for patients who received the chemotherapy first.
Elizabeth Ann Mittendorf, M.D, lead author said: "Since 2005, treatment techniques have improved, including the ability to add targeted therapies to chemotherapy. In the future we will look at the effects of newer agents, and we anticipate the results will be even more favourable for women who received these treatments before surgery."