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Study: Small tumours aggressive in breast cancer


According to a new study, even small tumours can be aggressive in patients with early stage breast cancer.

Researchers found that nearly one in four small tumours were aggressive and patients benefitted from chemotherapy. Aggressive tumours could be identified by a 70-gene signature.

Lead author Dr Konstantinos Tryfonidis said: “Our results challenge the assumption that all small tumours are less serious and do not need adjuvant chemotherapy.”

The MINDACT study is managed and sponsored by the at the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) in collaboration with the Breast International Group (BIG) and included 6,693 women with early stage breast cancer.

MINDACT showed that around 46% of patients who were at high clinical risk for recurrence – defined using ‘Adjuvant!’ – might not require chemotherapy. These women had a low genomic risk for recurrence according to MammaPrint, a genomic signature that assists in predicting clinical outcomes in women with early stage breast cancer.

The researchers found that at five years, very few patients who received chemotherapy experienced disease relapses, showing high rates of distant metastases-free survival, disease-free survival and overall survival, which confirms that they derived benefit from chemotherapy.

Dr Fatima Cardoso, senior author of the study, said: “We found that nearly one in four patients with small tumours are at risk of distant metastases and do benefit from chemotherapy.

“This was striking because based on clinical criteria alone you would say that these tumours are not aggressive and therefore patients do not need chemotherapy. But 24% of small tumours had an aggressive biology, which shows that not all small tumours are the same.”

Pan European Networks Ltd