New tool able to predict breast cancer recurrence

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Researchers have developed a new computer tool that is able to predict the risk of breast cancer returning. The tool evaluates the chance that the cancer will return over a 10-year period in the same breast in women who have had a lumpectomy, according to a study presented at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology conference this week 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, MD, 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.”

Currently, for women with early stage breast cancer the standard treatment is to perform breast-conserving surgery and a course of radiation therapy over a six to eight week period. The newly-developed formula evaluates all of the risk factors associated with the recurrence of the disease making use of factors such as the age of the patient at the time of treatment, specific details regarding the type of cancer, if lymphatic vessels are affected, and the use of chemotherapy or hormone therapy. The web-based computer tool enables also assists in evaluating how much a particular patient could benefit from radiation therapy.