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19-12-2007 | Article

Combined treatment benefits women with large breast tumours

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MedWire News: Women with large breast tumours appear to benefit from treatment with targeted microwave heat combined with chemotherapy, say US researchers.

"In addition to low survival rates, patients with large breast tumours may require mastectomy [surgical breast removal]," commented the study's lead investigator, Dr Hernan Vargas from the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrence, California.

Dr Vargas and team examined whether microwave heat treatments combined with additional chemotherapy might improve outcomes in patients with large breast tumours.

Fifteen patients with large breast tumours requiring mastectomy received two focused microwave heat treatments during chemotherapy treatment before surgery, while 13 patients underwent chemotherapy treatments only before surgery.

The results, published in the journal Cancer Therapy, showed that patients who received microwave heat in addition to chemotherapy experienced a significant reduction in the size of their tumours, by 88.4% compared with 58.8% in patients receiving chemotherapy only.

What's more, tumours were sufficiently reduced in 86% of a subset of patients with larger invasive tumours, allowing breast conservation surgery, rather than total breast removal.

"Treatment was well-tolerated and side effects minimal," say the researchers.

Dr Vargas adds that microwave heat treatments in addition to different therapies might be a "tool that helps us fight this disease".

By Liz Scherer