Mortality rates from breast cancer

Kevin Fox, MD
Last Modified: June 9, 2002

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Question

Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
I understand that the mortality from breast cancer has dropped. I would be grateful if you could tell me the reasons for this and what is the most significant factor, which has caused this drop?


Answer

Kevin Fox, MD Assistant Director, Clinical Affairs and Associate Professor of Hematology/Oncology at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania responds:

It can be frustrating to the individual observer when looking at overall mortality figures. Overall mortality from breast cancer has dropped, but only by a little bit. The two most likely reasons are early detection from increased use of mammography, and from more effective drug therapies (adjuvant therapies) for patients with early stages of disease. By catching breast cancer at an earlier stage, we should be able to impact survival over time, but this may take many years to prove. Similarly, with the addition of new adjuvant therapies and broader distribution and availability, we hope to see this trend continue.



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