New chemo may be end of mastectomies
MASTECTOMIES could be replaced by chemotherapy and hormone treatment under a revolution in breast cancer treatment being trialled in Australia.
More than 120 women are being given chemotherapy, aromatase inhibitors and hormone therapy to shrink their tumours before surgery.
If successful, it means women would need a less invasive lumpectomy to treat their cancer, rather than a mastectomy followed by breast reconstruction.
The new treatment is being tested by Breast Cancer Trials, a group of Australian doctors and researchers committed to improving breast cancer treatment.
Under other changes they done decades ago. Since then, new drugs such as tamoxifen, which block the effects of oestrogen in breast tissue, and aromatase inhibitors have been added treatments.
Doctors want to know if the costly five-week radiotherapy is still necessary.
Breast cancer can spread through the body if it moves into the lymph nodes, but surgery to remove the nodes causes stiffness, swelling and pain in the arm.
This is why doctors will test whether small amounts of cancer will spread if lymph nodes are not removed, now there are new chemical ways to control cancer.
In yet another trial, expensive new treatment palbociclib, currently used in latestage cancer cases, is being tested in early-stage breast cancers to see if it delays the return of the disease.