What is the role of systemic adjuvant therapy in the treatment of breast cancer?

Updated: Feb 04, 2021
  • Author: Pavani Chalasani, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: John V Kiluk, MD, FACS  more...
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Adjuvant treatment of breast cancer is designed to treat micrometastatic disease (ie, breast cancer cells that have escaped the breast and regional lymph nodes but which have not yet had an established identifiable metastasis). Treatment is aimed at reducing the risk of future recurrence, thereby reducing breast cancer-related morbidity and mortality. Depending on the model of risk reduction, adjuvant therapy has been estimated to be responsible for 35-72% of the reduction in mortality. (See Adjuvant Therapy for Breast Cancer.)

Emerging data suggest that adjuvant therapy with bisphosphonates may prevent disease recurrence and prolong survival. The Early Breast Cancer Trialists' Collaborative Group found that in postmenopausal women with early breast cancer, adjuvant bisphosphonate therapy produced highly significant reductions in recurrence (rate ratio [RR] 0.86, P=0.002), distant recurrence (RR 0.82, P=0.0003), bone recurrence (RR 0.72, P=0.0002), and breast cancer mortality (RR 0.82, P=0.002). In premenopausal women, bisphosphonate treatment had no apparent effect on any outcome. [123]

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