Is Breast Cancer Curable?
After investigating breast cancer mortality since 1900, some epidemiologists in the middle of this Century reached the conclusion that survival rates (using a 5-year survival index) of patients with breast cancer were not affected by treatment at all (Park and Lees 1951). Other authors concluded, by constructing mathematical models of the behavior of breast cancer, that the same proportion of patients at any time during follow-up experience failure, indicating that eventually all patients die from breast cancer (Cutler and Axtell 1963). Other studies indicate that less than 15% of breast cancer patients with positive axillary lymph nodes will be free of disseminated disease (BROSS and BLUMENSON 1971). These hypotheses support the predominant view that nearly all breast cancer patients with histologically positive axillary nodes die of disease, thereby raising the controversial question of whether breast cancer is curable (Brinkley and Haybittle 1977; Bross and Blumenson 1971; Fletcher 1984; Harris and Hellmann 1986; Rutqvist et al. 1984). In this chapter, these hypotheses are tested on a series of 941 patients treated at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center (UTMDACC) be- tween 1963 and 1979; follow-up was a minimum of 14 years to a maximum of 28 years.
KeywordsBreast Cancer Breast Cancer Patient Positive Node Positive Axillary Node Locoregional Failure
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