Ovarian ablation and chemotherapy comparable in breast cancer

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NEW YORK (Reuters Health), Nov 26 - In patients with early hormone receptor-positive breast cancer, ovarian ablation and chemotherapy appear to have similar effects on survival, European researchers report in the November 1st issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Dr. Bent Ejlertsen of Righospitalet, Copenhagen, and colleagues came to this conclusion after studying 768 women who were randomized to ovarian ablation via irradiation or to nine courses of chemotherapy with intravenous cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, and fluorouracil administered every three weeks.

At a median follow-up of 8.5 years, the unadjusted hazard ratio for disease-free survival in the ablation group was 0.99 compared to the chemotherapy group. After a median follow-up of 10.5 years overall survival rates were similar, with a hazard ratio of 1.11 for the ablation group.

The researchers conclude that "although the number of events is not sufficient to claim equivalence, our results are consistent with previously published trials and ... indirect comparisons."

Dr. Antonio C. Wolff, co-author of an accompanying editorial, told Reuters Health that "this study emphasizes that endocrine therapy is one of the most effective treatments against breast cancers that express the estrogen receptor regardless of the age of the patient."

Dr. Wolff of the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, Baltimore, concluded that "this study and other ongoing studies will help settle the lingering controversy on the role of ovary-targeted therapy in addition to or instead of chemotherapy in premenopausal women with early-stage, estrogen receptor-positive disease."

Last Updated: 2006-11-24 10:35:25 -0400 (Reuters Health)

J Clin Oncol 2006;24:4956-4962.

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