Experts say lack of clinical trials for younger patients is causing long-term problems
Younger patients with breast cancer are being ‘failed’ by a lack of clinical trials aimed at them, experts say.
3,000 women aged 40 and under, the age group who make up five per cent of breast cancer patients in the UK, were analysed by researchers from Cancer Research UK and the Wessex Cancer Trust.
The study showed a rapid rise in relapse after five years in younger patients with a type of breast cancer known as oestrogen-receptor-positive disease, meaning their cancers are fuelled by the female hormone oestrogen, in contrast to what usually happens with the disease.
Oestrogen-receptor-positive disease is usually treated by chemotherapy, then the drug tamoxifen for five years. Although the researchers said taking tamoxifen for a longer period could potentially help in this instance, the underlying problem was that more trials needed to involve younger patients.
Chief investigator Prof Dianna Eccles said: ‘This study adds to the
evidence that breast cancer can behave very differently when diagnosed
in younger women.
‘They may require a different approach to treatment, which isn’t necessarily understood from cancer trials in older patients.’
The data has been published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.