Medical Updates from the 32nd Annual Miami Breast Cancer Conference

Debu Tripathy, CURE's editor-in-chief and chair of the breast medical oncology department at MD Anderson Cancer Center, reports from the Miami Breast Cancer Conference held in late February.

The evolution of the treatment for hormone receptor-positive breast cancer was a hot topic for this year's conference.

Early-stage breast cancers that are hormone-positive can be treated with anti-estrogen therapies that can lower the risk of recurrence. Tamoxifen, which blocks the effects of estrogen, has been around for 40 years, and the standard of care has been to give tamoxifen for five years. Recent studies have looked at whether giving tamoxifen for 10 years would lower the risk of recurrence even more.

"We know that even after this five-year period that some patients can still develop a recurrence," Tripathy says. "These studies have finally been completed ... what they show, though, is that 10 years compared to 5 years of tamoxifen, does lower the risk of recurrence by another 4 to 5 percent."

But for some patients, including those with very low-risk tumors, the longer duration may not be worth the risks, he says. "It is an individualized decision."

For younger patients who are premenopausal, research also examined whether shutting down the ovaries temporarily with medical therapy added benefit. While the overall results did not show a clear benefit, research did identify a group of patients who would benefit from ovarian suppression.
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