New procedures successfully target tough to treat breast cancer

Cai Wenjun
A new combined chemotherapy treatment targeting a resilient type of breast cancer is able to improve the five-year survival rate of patients by almost 6 percentage points. 
Cai Wenjun

Experts from the Shanghai Cancer Center have announced a new combined chemotherapy treatment targeting the toughest type of breast cancer is able to improve the five-year disease-free survival rate by almost 6 percentage points to 86.3 percent, and reduce the risk of relapse by 41 percent.

The study was published in the world leading Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Breast cancer has become a preventable and treatable chronic disease as a result of early screening, as well as improvements in surgery and targeted medication. 

However triple-negative breast cancer has a 20 percent risk of relapse.

Triple-negative breast cancer is a type of breast cancer that does not express the genes for estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors or HER2. So there is no targeted therapy, with chemotherapy the only treatment.

About 15 to 20 percent of patients with breast cancer have triple-negative breast cancer, and it is the most fatal type of breast cancer.

"For triple-negative breast cancer, patients’ five-year disease-free survival rate has remained at 80 percent for a long time,” said Dr Shao Zhimin from the Shanghai Cancer Center. "Doctors have tried many methods and drugs, but failed to improve survival."

Shao’s team made their breakthrough by combining capecitabine, a common chemotherapy medicine, in a traditional treatment plan.

An 8-year clinical trial led by the Shanghai Cancer Center was conducted in 35 hospitals across the nation. A total of 585 patients participated in the trial and 297 used the new combined therapy.

The new therapy can reduce the possibility of relapse by 41 percent and the possibility of cancerous transfer by 37 percent, doctors said.

“The five-year disease-free survival rate increased by more than 5 percentage points meaning the new combined chemotherapy is effective. It brings new hope to patients,” Shao said.

He said the new combined therapy is expected to be included in clinical guideline for triple-negative breast cancer treatment around the world.

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