A new study finds that the size of newly diagnosed breast cancers has shifted towards smaller tumors, even within conventional cancer stage categories, and that this shift accounts for a proportion of the improvement seen in breast cancer survival over the last 30 years. The authors of the report say that failure to account for this shift in tumor size can lead to overestimation of the impact of treatment advances. The study is published in the September 15, 2005 issue of CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society.
Great strides in breast cancer survival have been made over the last 30 years, overall and within cancer stages, coinciding with advances in treatment and with increased use of screening mammography. However, if important prognostic factors have also changed over time, then observed improvements in breast cancer survival may be a result of such changes and of improvements in treatment. The authors studied changes in tumor size because it is a strong predictor of breast cancer prognosis and it is a straightforward, reliably evaluated, consistently available measure.
Elena B. Elkin, Ph.D. of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and her colleagues reviewed data on early-stage breast cancers from the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) program to look for trends in tumor size and explore how those trends might impact survival rates. SEER is a population-based cancer registry system that collects and monitors data on cancers diagnosed in certain areas of the U.S.
David Greenberg | EurekAlert!
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