Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 171, Issue 1, pp 225–234 | Cite as

Effect of glucocorticoid use on survival in patients with stage I–III breast cancer

  • Ching-Hung Lin
  • Po-Ya Chuang
  • San-Lin You
  • Chun-Ju Chiang
  • Chiun-Sheng Huang
  • Ming-Yang Wang
  • Ming Chao
  • Yen-Shen Lu
  • Ann-Lii Cheng
  • Chao-Hsiun TangEmail author



Glucocorticoids (GCs) are commonly used in breast cancer patients to ameliorate emesis induced by chemotherapy. Some preclinical studies have suggested that systemic GCs might promote survival of estrogen receptor (ER)-negative breast cancer cells. This study aims to clarify their clinical effect on patient survival.


A total of 18,596 women with newly diagnosed stage I–III breast cancer in 2002–2006 were identified from the Taiwan Cancer Database and drug treatment was examined from the Taiwan National Health Insurance Claims Database. Of these, 3989 who did not receive adjuvant chemotherapy (non-chemotherapy cohort) and 3237 patients who received six cycles of adjuvant anthracycline-based chemotherapy (anthracycline cohort) were included. The impact of GC use on survival was analyzed separately in these two cohorts using Cox proportional hazards models.


In the non-chemotherapy cohort, GC use was associated with aggressive clinicopathological features of breast cancer. High-dose GC was associated with shorter overall survival in univariate analysis but not in multivariate analysis. In the anthracycline cohort, multivariate analysis showed that GC use at each dose level was significantly associated with longer breast cancer-specific survival (HR 0.65, 0.70, and 0.70 for low-dose, median-dose, and high-dose GC, respectively) and overall survival (HR 0.72, 0.76, and 0.73, respectively) when compared with those receiving no GC. The associations were significant in both ER-positive and ER-negative subgroups for breast cancer-specific survival, and in ER-negative subgroup for overall survival.


Concomitant use of GC improved survival in patients receiving adjuvant anthracycline-based chemotherapy for stage I–III breast cancer.


Glucocorticoid Breast cancer Adjuvant chemotherapy Survival 



This study was supported by grants from the National Science Council, Taiwan (Grant NSC 99-2410-H-038-004); the National Center of Excellence for Clinical Trial and Research, Taiwan (Grant Number MOHW105-TDU-B-211-134005); and the Ministry of Science and Technology, ROC. (MOST 105-2911-I-002-302). The funding source had no role in the design of this study and will not have any role during its execution, analyses, interpretation of the data, writing assistance, or decision to submit results.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

No potential conflicts of interest exist.

Supplementary material

10549_2018_4787_MOESM1_ESM.docx (44 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 44 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ching-Hung Lin
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Po-Ya Chuang
    • 4
  • San-Lin You
    • 5
    • 6
    • 7
  • Chun-Ju Chiang
    • 8
  • Chiun-Sheng Huang
    • 9
  • Ming-Yang Wang
    • 9
  • Ming Chao
    • 10
  • Yen-Shen Lu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ann-Lii Cheng
    • 1
    • 2
    • 11
  • Chao-Hsiun Tang
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of OncologyNational Taiwan University HospitalTaipeiTaiwan
  2. 2.Department of Internal MedicineNational Taiwan University HospitalTaipeiTaiwan
  3. 3.Oncology CenterNational Taiwan University Hospital Hsin-Chu BranchHsin-ChuTaiwan
  4. 4.School of Health Care AdministrationTaipei Medical UniversityTaipeiTaiwan
  5. 5.Department of Public Health, College of MedicineNational Taiwan UniversityTaipeiTaiwan
  6. 6.Big Data Research CentreFu-Jen Catholic UniversityNew Taipei CityTaiwan
  7. 7.Genomics Research Center, Academia SinicaTaipeiTaiwan
  8. 8.Taiwan Cancer Registry and Graduate Institute of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, College of Public HealthNational Taiwan UniversityTaipeiTaiwan
  9. 9.Department of SurgeryNational Taiwan University HospitalTaipeiTaiwan
  10. 10.Department of SurgeryNational Taiwan University Hospital Hsin-Chu BranchHsin-ChuTaiwan
  11. 11.Graduate Institute of Oncology, College of MedicineNational Taiwan UniversityTaipeiTaiwan

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