Women under the age of 35 who have breast cancer, for this reason alone,
should be considered high risk and offered adjuvant cytotoxic treatment
This conclusion was reached by researchers from the
Danish Epidemiology Science Centre and University of Copenhagen in a
retrospective study based on a population based database of breast cancer
patients. Data was included on characteristics of the tumour, what treatment
they received and survival at 10 years.
Analysis was carried out among
10,356 women who were under the age of 50 when they were diagnosed with primary
breast cancer. Comparisons were made between mortality of women under the age of
35 and middle-aged women.
The study found a significantly increased risk
of death among young women diagnosed with what is considered low-risk disease
but who did not receive adjuvant chemotherapy. However, there is no such trend
among young women who do receive adjuvant cytotoxic therapy. This differential
remains even if the women are only grouped according to the presence of
node-negative disease or the same size tumour.
The study results cannot
be taken as direct evidence that young women classified with low risk disease
will benefit from adjuvant cytotoxic therapy, the researchers point out. But
they feel confident their conclusions are correct, and other recent studies
appear to back up what they think.