Breast cancer returns in one in five women

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More than one in five breast cancer patients will have their disease recur, according to Macmillan Cancer Support research presented at National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN) conference in Birmingham, England, in June.

Prior to this study, data were only available on diagnosis and survival of breast cancer patients. The emerging research adds to these data by examining how many patients undergo a recurrence.

“The aim of this study is to begin to understand more about how long people may survive without recurrence, how long they may survive if cancer does return, the cost of each stage of cancer treatment, and how we can best plan services for cancer patients. These findings are invaluable in helping us understand just how many breast cancer patients are experiencing cancer for the first or second time,” Adam Glaser, MD, from St. James Institute of Oncology in Leeds, said in a release.

Glaser and colleagues retrospectively analyzed the local electronic database to define dates of recurrence and progression among 1,000 consecutive patients diagnosed with breast cancer.

Clinicians collected baseline demographics, details regarding initial presentation, tumor characteristics and treatment. For each recurrence/progression event, the date and type of recurrence, treatment and outcome were recorded. All patients were followed up for minimum of 10 years or until death if earlier.

The preliminary results showed that 51 percent of patients who developed recurrent disease lived for more than three years disease-free and on average survived for at least one year after their recurrence, with 5 percent surviving at least 10 years.

The researchers plan to further analyze these data to determine mean 10-year overall costs of treatment and mean 10-year costs of recurrence. In addition to defining outcomes and utilization of health resources, these data will be used to develop algorithms to facilitate the automated prediction of recurrence from large national clinical datasets, the researchers explained in the abstract.