Treatment for breast cancer should consider the patient's cancer history

It is important that doctors consider the history of oncological disease in patients with breast cancer, in order to choose a treatment that is more appropriate to their health condition, stresses a study by the Instituto de Saúde Pública da Universidade do Porto (ISPUP).

The research states that clinicians should pay special attention to women who have had previous cancers, as the type of treatment to be administered to these patients may be different from what can be delivered to those who have never had cancer.

The work, published in the journal Anticancer Research evaluated 681 women diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012. Among these women, 628 were diagnosed with a first cancer in 2012, 21 had a previous diagnosis of breast cancer, and 32 had a previous tumor in another organ.

According to Samantha Morais, first author of the investigation, coordinated by Nuno Lunet and Susana Pereira, “we wanted to understand if there were differences between the types of treatment (surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, hormone therapy, etc.) that were given to these three groups of women. We also tried to understand if there were differences in the use of other health care”.

The study found that women who had previously been diagnosed with cancer received less anthracycline chemotherapy and less radiation therapy in the treatment of the second cancer.“Given that there are maximum dosage and residual toxicity limits for these therapies, health professionals probably opted for other solutions for the treatment of the second cancer”, says Samantha Morais.

The study also showed that these patients were more often subjected to total mastectomy (complete breast removal) and underwent genetic testing more often than those who had never had cancer.

For the ISPUP researcher, this study leaves an important message for clinicians.“When defining the treatment to be delivered to a patient who has had more than one cancer, the woman’s medical history and the therapies to which she has been previously submitted to have to be considered. For example, if someone already had some type of chemotherapy, the treatment they will receive now may have to be different, given the maximum dose limits and residual toxicity that we can receive throughout our life”.

The study highlights that “in cancer survivors, the treatment of cancer is influenced by the patients’ health history”, the researcher adds.

The article is entitled Treatment and Other Healthcare Use of Breast Cancer Patients With a Previous Cancer Diagnosis. The researchers Ana Rute Costa, Luísa Lopes-Conceição, Mariana Brandão, Marina Borges, Natália Araújo, Teresa Dias and Filipa Fontes also participated in the study. The investigation is available for consultation, HERE.

Image: Pexels/Anna Shvets

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