Breast cancer cure possible, says expert

Click to follow
Indy Lifestyle Online

The survival of women with breast cancer has improved so dramatically in the past decade that for the first time it is possible to speak of a "cure" for the disease, a leading doctor said yesterday.

The survival of women with breast cancer has improved so dramatically in the past decade that for the first time it is possible to speak of a "cure" for the disease, a leading doctor said yesterday.

Sir Richard Peto, professor of medical statistics at Oxford University and a world authority on cancer, said the the main reason for the improvement was the use of the hormonal drug tamoxifen. New figures presented yesterday at the European Breast Cancer Conference in Brussels showed it improved by 26 per cent 10 to 15-year survival rates in post-menopausal women who took the drug for five years after diagnosis.

In the UK, which was one of the first countries to introduce tamoxifen, the death rate from breast cancer has fallen 30 per cent in the past 20 years - the biggest fall in the world - and tamoxifen was the main cause of the fall. Women given the drug alongside other treatments, including radiotherapy and chemotherapy, had a 73 per cent chance of living 15 years. The results come from a worldwide overview of 300 randomised trials involving 200,000 breast cancer patients.

Sir Richard told the conference: "These figures are extraordinary. No other country has seen such a big decrease in death rates. It seems that we can at last talk about real cure."

"We have never seen such big benefits in such a common cancer - this is the first time that improvements in treatment have produced such a real fall in death rates. The main change is the way in which treatments can really have effects, not just in the first five years but even in the next five years and five years after that... Tamoxifen is probably the biggest single contributor to the fall in the death rate."

Long-term survival rates are expected to continue to increase as the drug is more widely used.

Comments