Better prognosis for ER-negative breast cancer

July 1, 2006

Recent advances in chemotherapy are helping to close the survival gap between women with estrogen-receptor (ER)–positive breast cancer and those with ER-negative disease, according to the results of a recent series of studies.

Recent advances in chemotherapy are helping to close the survival gap between women with estrogen-receptor (ER)–positive breast cancer and those with ER-negative disease, according to the results of a recent series of studies.

Investigators found that biweekly doxorubicin/cyclophosphamide plus paclitaxel lowers the rate of recurrence and death in women with node-positive, ER-negative disease by more than 50% compared with treatment with low-dose cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, and fluorouracil (CAF).

They also confirmed that chemotherapy benefits women with ER-negative disease far more than it does women with ER-positive disease; 22.8% more women with ER-negative breast cancer survived to 5 years without a recurrence if they were receiving chemotherapy versus 7% of ER-positive counterparts. Improvements in overall survival were 16.7% for ER-negative patients and 4% for ER-positive ones.

Berry DA, Cirrincione C, Henderson IC, et al. Estrogen-receptor status and outcomes of modern chemotherapy for patients with node-positive breast cancer. JAMA. 2006;295:1658-1667.