Article Abstract

Treatment of breast cancer in young women: do we need more aggressive therapies?

Authors: Giuseppe Cancello, Emilia Montagna

Abstract

Breast cancer diagnosed in young patients has been reported to have a more aggressive biologic behaviour and to be associated with a more unfavorable prognosis compared with the disease in older patients. However controversies exist regarding the optimal treatment and if more aggressive therapies are really crucial in this population.

Very young women with this disease are faced with personal, family, professional, and quality-of-life issues that further complicate the phase of treatment decision-making.

Moreover it’s also necessary for young patients to consider the impact of acute and late toxicities in relation to long life-expectancy.

Dose-dense and high-dose chemotherapy are two examples of more aggressive therapies that failed to show a clear benefit in a feasible way compared to standard regimens in young patients. The benefit evidenced in patients with ER-positive disease raises the hypothesis that efficacy of dose-intensive chemotherapy might simply be related to its endocrine effects.

The study of the biology and the oncogenic pathways should be a research priority so as to aid management of young patients with breast cancer, and more importantly, to better tailor treatments that could be offered to young women or, simply to use better modalities available today.

For the time being, young age alone should not be a reason to prescribe more aggressive therapies and there are no evidence to recommend a specific chemotherapy regimen for young women.