A new study discovered that surgery with treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy may extend the life of metastatic breast cancer patients. Read further to find what scientists found about breast cancer surgery and chemotherapy.

In this research, scientists studied around 13,000 stage four breast cancer patients. They proved that patients who had surgery in addition to their other treatments had an extended length of survival than patients who had other treatments alone.

In that, 6% were newly diagnosed with breast cancer patients. In the study, they followed the systemic therapy that included treatments like chemotherapy, immunotherapies, and hormone therapies for those cancer patients.

A Study on Breast Cancer Surgery and Chemotherapy

Surgery is essential for cancer patients because some types of cancers may spread from the part where it began (that is primary site) to other parts of the body. When cancer cells separate from a tumor, they can transfer to other parts of the body through the bloodstream/the lymph system.

Kelley Stahl, a surgical resident at Penn State College of Medicine and lead author of the study in the Annals of Surgical Oncology stated that previous researches have shown that metastatic breast cancer had disagreeing results.

She explained about breast cancer surgery and chemotherapy “Results from previous trials evaluating surgical benefit in metastatic breast cancer patients have been questioned because of the small number of participants or the fact that patients weren’t also receiving chemotherapy or other systemic therapies.”

“We felt another key factor missing from those studies was whether the biologic subtype of breast cancer affected the survival rates in relation to surgical intervention.”

She examined along with Daleela Dodge and Chan Shen to discover 12,838 stages four breast cancer patients from the National Cancer Database between 2010 to2015. They analyzed whether patients’ cancer cells had a growth-promoting protein known as HER2 and hormone receptors for estrogen and progesterone, which can aid cancer growth. Scientists stated that learning these characteristics of cancer’s biological subtype may help decide which treatment methods can be more effective.

Stahl also examined two groups of patients: one group who had systemic therapy alone and surgery, another group of patients who had systemic therapy, surgery, and radiation. She evaluated along with other researchers whether specific biologic subtypes and timing of chemotherapy were related to prolonged survival of the patients.

Stahl further says “We evaluated whether the hormone status had an influence on surgical benefit in these treatment-responsive breast cancer patients,” says Dodge, an associate professor of surgery and humanities. “Some types of breast cancer, especially like triple negative, where the cancer is hormone receptor and HER2 negative, are not very responsive to treatment. So our goal was to see if surgery made a difference in metastatic breast cancers that were responsive to treatment.”

They discovered that patients with surgical intervention may have a longer length of survival compared to other patients with different treatment methods. As stated by the study, cancer patients with HER2 positive had increased survival when their treatment method included surgery.

Scientists examined those who had surgery to see whether getting chemotherapy before or after surgery made any impact on their survival. They also discovered that apart from hormone receptors or HER2 status, patients who had systemic therapy that included chemotherapy and targeted treatments before surgery may live longer than other patients who had surgery before systemic treatment.

Shen, associate professor of surgery explained “Not only did we find that surgery may be beneficial for treatment-responsive metastatic breast cancer patients, we also uncovered that getting chemotherapy before that surgery had the greatest survival advantage in patients with positive HER2 and estrogen and progesterone receptor status.”

“Stage four breast cancer patients who are responsive to systemic therapy may be able to benefit from the addition of surgery regardless of their biologic subtype,” says Stahl.

These researchers encourage clinicians to examine real-world evidence by including their research and choose optimal treatment for metastatic breast cancer patients.