October 1st 2004
The treatment of breast cancer has progressed substantially overthe past 15 years. Data from randomized adjuvant trials have shownthat the risk of disease recurrence and death is significantly reducedwhen adjuvant chemotherapy and/or hormonal therapy is added to treatment.As new strategies are incorporated, one of the continued controversiesin patient management is whether adjuvant anthracyclinesshould be the preferred treatment for all patients. Data from randomizedand translational clinical trials have become available and arehelping to elucidate the proper role of anthracyclines, as well as their acuteand long-term toxicities. In most situations, an anthracycline is currentlypreferred, but other single and combination chemotherapies arecurrently under evaluation and appear promising for use in the adjuvantsetting. Continued breast cancer research using molecular markers(such as topoisomerase II–alpha and gene clusters) as predictors oftreatment response, could help individualize decisions regardingwhether to incorporate anthracyclines into adjuvant therapy regimens.