Significant Drop Seen in Breast Cancer Mortality Rates

Improvements in breast cancer patient quality of life and mortality seen over last 30 years.

Over the last 3 decades, breast cancer mortality rates have fallen by one-third.

This is largely due to improvements in early-cancer detection, optimizing current treatments, and the development of new ones. Now, investigators are looking for new ways to improve the quality of life in patients.

“Nowadays, we believe that successful treatment is only possible by taking a more interdisciplinary approach,” said Michael Gnant, deputy head of the Comprehensive Cancer Center (CCC). “We are able to provide this at the CCC of MedUni Vienna and Vienna General Hospital, because we have combined all the disciplines under one roof. These include fundamental cancer research, the specialist areas involved and clinical research and this enables us to keep our finger on the pulse of medical progress.”

Improving patients’ quality of life and the development of new treatment guidelines will be 2 central topics at the 15th St Gallen Breast Cancer Conference in Vienna, Austria, from March 14 to 18, 2017. Approximately 5000 leading breast cancer experts will be in attendance.

Another central topic will cover the interdisciplinary treatment approach.

“We are very proud to have been able to bring the conference to Vienna 2 years ago,” said Gnant. “The fact that we are able to do so shows that our expertise is also recognized on an international level. During the time of the conference, Vienna is truly the center of the world in terms of breast cancer treatment.”

Surgery continues to play a major role in the treatment of breast cancer, despite the interdisciplinary treatment approach. In 96% of cases, surgery forms part of the overall interdisciplinary treatment plan, but patient quality of life is also an important consideration. At the conference, breast cancer experts will address the question of overtreatment.

Ductal carcinoma situ (DCIS) is diagnosed in 30% of all breast cancer patients. Although the probability of tumor recurrence is approximately 10% to 30%, all patients are given further treatment after the operation, which most likely is not beneficial to them.

“Overtreatment often has huge [adverse events] for patients without providing any therapeutic benefit,” said conference Chairmen Florian Fitzal. “At the conference, we are therefore going to discuss the question with international experts and thrash out the optimum strategy for treating DCIS. The long-term aim is to make a more accurate distinction between DCIS cases and divide them into biological subtypes, so that we are able to filter out those that do not require any further treatment following surgery.”