Surgery Extends Lives of Women with Metastatic Breast Cancer, Study Says

Surgery Extends Lives of Women with Metastatic Breast Cancer, Study Says
Women with HER2-positive breast cancer that has spread to distant organs live longer if they have surgery to remove their primary tumor, according to research presented at the recent American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. The findings were featured on the poster, "The impact of primary tumor surgery on survival in HER2 positive stage IV breast cancer patients in the current era of targeted therapy," and presented by Ross Mudgway, a medical student at the University of California, Riverside School of Medicine. Between 20-30% of patients with stage 4 breast cancer (a stage in which cancer has already spread to other organs) are HER2-positive. HER2, or human epidermal growth factor receptor 2, is a protein that sends signals to stimulate cell growth and is normally associated with aggressive forms of breast cancer. According to Mudgway, the study's lead author, HER2-positive breast cancer was normally associated with poor clinical outcomes for patients. However, with the development of HER2-targeting therapies, such as Herceptin (trastuzumab) or Kadcycla (ado-trastuzumab emtansine), patients have seen their survival outcomes improve significantly. The recommended course of treatment for most patients with HER2-positive breast cancer is a form of systemic therapy, such as chemotherapy, targeted therapy, or hormonal therapy. According to Mudgway, surgery may also be offered as a form of treatment, but so far its impact on patients' survival has been controversial. To determine the impact of primary tumor resection surgery (a surgical procedure to remove the primary tumor) on the survival of patients diagnosed with advanced metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer, Mudgway and his team carried out a retrospective
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