Improving outcomes in early breast cancer

Improving outcomes in early breast cancer

Every year, more than

new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed worldwide

And more than

people die from the disease

Globally, breast cancer is by far the most frequently diagnosed cancer among women.

Breast cancer represents

of all cancers.

An estimated

years of healthy life are lost globally to breast cancer each year.

When breast cancer is diagnosed and treated early it is potentially curable

Cancer that is confined to the breast i.e. it has not ‘metastasised’ or spread to other distant parts of the body.

The majority of breast cancer cases are diagnosed at an early stage of the disease.

Treating people with breast cancer early, before the cancer has spread, may offer the best chance of preventing the disease from returning or reaching an advanced, incurable stage.

Surgery is a mainstay treatment for early breast cancer

Patients with breast cancer can be treated with surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormonal and targeted therapies.

Patients with eBC usually undergo surgery to remove the tumour. Depending on the size and stage of the cancer, a patient may receive one of the following procedures:

  • A lumpectomy: only the lump or area of cancer is removed.

  • A quadrantectomy: about a quarter of the breast tissue is removed.

  • A mastectomy: the whole breast is removed.

Neoadjuvant treatment aims to shrink the tumour

Neoadjuvant treatment (before surgery) is aimed at shrinking the tumour so that it is possible or easier to remove surgically. This may improve surgery outcomes and help to conserve a patient’s breast.

Response to neoadjuvant treatment may also allow a doctor to quickly assess whether a medicine is working so treatment can be continued or adjusted accordingly

In some patients, neoadjuvant therapy may shrink the tumour so much that no remaining cancer can be found in the tissue removed during surgery. When this happens, a patient achieves pathological complete response (pCR). This may provide additional insights into the prognosis of the disease.

Treatment after surgery (adjuvant treatment) aims to ‘wipe away’ any remaining cancer cells

Adjuvant treatment is given after surgery to eradicate any remaining cancer cells and prevent the disease from coming back.

Early breast cancer treatment is a comprehensive approach

To maximise the chance of better outcomes, the approach to treating eBC should be comprehensive, including neoadjuvant, surgery and adjuvant treatment for eligible patients.

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