Advanced or Metastatic Breast Cancer: Continuous Chemotherapy Improves Outcomes

Continuous chemotherapy would be more effective in patients with advanced breast cancer compared to cyclic chemotherapy. Explanations.

There are several types of breast cancer treatments that depend on the progress of the disease and its nature. Because yes, there are also several types of breast cancer, the most common being ductal and lobular carcinomas, which can be "in situ", ie in their original location, or be "infiltrating", s they spread in neighboring tissues.

It is said that the cancer is advanced according to certain criteria: if the tumor is more than 5 centimeters, or if it has invaded more than 4 nodes, or if there are metastases in the mammary lymph nodes. If the cancer becomes metastasized, it means that the metastases have spread to other organs. At this stage, it is only a question of prolonging the life and the quality of life of the patient.

"These results run counter to our hypothesis"

Researchers at the Zuyderland Medical Center in the Netherlands wanted to know how continuous chemotherapy can be used in advanced stages of breast cancer to increase the patient's quality of life. Their findings, released at the ESMO Congress, show that survival rates, but also quality of life, increase with continued treatment. They did not expect this conclusion themselves: "These results run counter to our hypothesis," says Dr. and co-investigator Monique Bos, explaining the treatment programs to patients, we tended to suggest that 'a break in the middle of the treatment might be beneficial, but it was not.'

A long-term study

To reach this conclusion, the study treated 420 patients with advanced breast cancer with either standard chemotherapy or continuous chemotherapy. They followed the intermittent pattern in the first group, that is, four cycles of treatment followed by a break, and then again four additional cycles. For the second, a continuous pattern including the same eight cycles administered consecutively was followed. To measure quality of life, patients responded to a questionnaire every 12 weeks during treatment and follow-up. The evolution of the physical and mental quality of life scores of each group was monitored for an average of 1 year.

"The finding that continuous chemotherapy is not at all associated with poor quality of life is clinically significant," the researchers say. Nevertheless, being able to carry out continuous treatment for long months remains complicated: "the challenge for clinical practice is to use agents that are well tolerated and can be continued for an extended period without interruption".

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