For Aggressive Breast Cancer, Chemo May Work Better in the Young

Study supports early intervention, before surgery, for patients under 35

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"They were able to combine eight trials with over 6,500 women whose tumors were able to be evaluated," she said. "Breast cancer in women this age is so uncommon that a single trial would not be able to answer this question."

Should the findings change treatment protocol in women under 35?

The researchers did not compare neoadjuvant chemotherapy to other treatments, but study author Loibl said chemotherapy early "may be a good idea" in younger patients.

For her part, Ganz said the findings do not change treatment recommendations, but they do help explain the differences in disease characteristics in younger women and show that they actually may benefit from chemotherapy.

"The decision to use neoadjuvant therapy is based on the size of the tumor and the woman's desire for possible breast conservation," Ganz said. "Studies have not shown any survival benefit by giving the same chemotherapy before, instead of after, breast surgery."

Research presented at medical meetings should be considered preliminary because it hasn't undergone a peer-review process.

More information

Learn more about breast cancer care at the American Cancer Society.

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