A study shows that chemotherapy after surgery significantly reduces the risk of breast cancer coming back and increases survival in women diagnosed with hormone-receptor-negative breast cancer.
Compared to hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer, hormone-receptor-negative disease tends to be more aggressive and is more likely to come back (recur). In this study, women younger than 50 when diagnosed with hormone-receptor-negative breast cancer had a 45% risk of recurrence in 10 years if they didn't receive chemotherapy. Their risk of recurrence dropped to 33% if they had chemotherapy.
When postmenopausal women are diagnosed with hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer, both chemotherapy and hormonal therapy often are used to reduce the risk of recurrence. But hormonal therapy doesn't work against hormone-receptor-negative disease.
This study looked at women who got chemotherapy in the 1970s and 1980s. Since that time, advances in the types of chemotherapy medicines available and the way they are used make it likely that the benefits of chemotherapy are even better today.
Getting the best breast cancer treatment can feel like a balancing act: you want to do as much as you can to get rid of the cancer and lower the risk of it coming back. But you'd like to avoid uncomfortable side effects that might lower your quality of life. Together, you and your doctor will consider your specific situation and decide on the treatment plan that is best for YOU.