Breast cancer can lay dormant for 15 years, researchers find

Breast cancer can lay dormant for 15 years, researchers find

Breast cancer can lay dormant for 15 years, researchers find

In an effort to empower the women of the community, Nation Builders hosted a successful Breast Cancer Awareness Programme at the Ballito Library on Saturday, 28 October.

The study, involving nearly 63,000 women from 88 clinical trials, has found that the absolute cumulative risk for metastatic or distant recurrence among women with this most common form of breast cancer ranges from 10% to 41% over that time span, depending on various disease characteristics.

We also wanted to find out what factors influenced the risk of recurrence, and whether some women had such a low risk that they could safely stop hormonal treatment after 5 years or, conversely, whether other women had a particularly high risk so it would make sense for them to keep on taking hormonal treatment.

Women whose original cancers were smaller and did not involve the lymph nodes had a 10 percent risk over 15 years.

Scientists analysed the progress of 63,000 women for 20 years.

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Women whose original tumours were large enough to have spread to four or more lymph nodes had a 40 per cent risk of a cancer recurrence over the next 15 years.

Even once the cancer has gone, these drugs are taken daily for 5 years.

Treatments for breast cancer have improved in recent years, so the estimated risks of recurrence may be on the high side, said co-lead author Richard Gray, of the University of Oxford.

Aromatase inhibitors, which will only work in women who are postmenopausal, are even better at reducing the risk of recurrence.

"We also need to know what the difference for women might be in taking hormone therapies for 10 years instead of five, the side effects and how this affects patients' quality of life". However some patients choose to halt hormone treatments early because of side effects such as menopausal symptoms, osteoporosis, joint pain or carpal tunnel syndrome.

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Although the analysis took thousands of women into account, the researchers are quick to note that they received their diagnosis decades ago and treatment has since improved.

Dr Hongchao Pan, a lead researcher on the study from the University of Oxford, said it was "remarkable" that breast cancer can remain dormant for so long and then spread many years later.

This risk is evident even among patients with the best prognoses, say the authors.

But some experts have questioned the accuracy of the risk estimates.

It is likely that these findings and others like them will be used to advise longer treatment plans for women with more aggressive ER-positive tumors.

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Michelle Annet Sewraj, founder of Nation Builders said the event was held to empower, educate and inform women about breast cancer.

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