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An alternative approach for treatment of breast cancer


Since adjuvant chemotherapy and hormonal therapy generally extend disease free survival in breast cancer rather than provide a cure, we have examined the current breast cancer paradigm. Heterogeneity is a fundamental characteristic of breast cancer tissue and a well recognized aspect of the disease. There are variations in natural history, histopathology, biochemistry and endocrinology, and molecular biology of cancer tissues and cells within the tissues. A variety of data indicate that growth kinetics are also variable, not only from tumor to tumor, but also during the natural history of an individual's tumor. To better understand kinetic heterogeneity, a stochastic numeric computer model of the natural history of breast cancer has been developed. To be consistent with inter- and intratumor kinetic heterogeneity and with late relapse, the model predicts that tumors grow in an irregular fashion with alternating periods of growth and periods of dormancy rather than the generally accepted modified exponential, or Gompertzian fashion. The prediction of irregular growth has been compared to data relevant to growth characteristics of human breast cancer. Much data support the concept of irregular kinetics and temporary dormancy rather than steady, Gompertzian growth of human breast cancer. Thus, in addition to drug resistance, kinetic heterogeneity may help explain the limited impact that traditional chemotherapeutic treatment has had on mortality from breast cancer. Although the mechanisms underlying irregular growth need to be better understood, non-Gompertzian growth kinetics indicates that there may be alternative approaches for breast cancer treatment.

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Correspondence to Douglas E. Swartzendruber.

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Swartzendruber, D.E., Retsky, M.W., Wardwell, R.H. et al. An alternative approach for treatment of breast cancer. Breast Cancer Res Tr 32, 319–325 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00666009

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Key words

  • breast cancer
  • computer modeling
  • kinetics
  • therapy