Adjuvant therapy for very young women with breast cancer: need for tailored treatments.

A. Goldhirsch, R. D. Gelber, G. Yothers, R. J. Gray, S. Green, J. Bryant, S. Gelber, M. Castiglione-Gertsch, A. S. Coates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

168 Scopus citations


Breast cancer rarely occurs in women below the age of 35 years. Data from various sources indicate that diagnosis at such an age is associated with a dire prognosis mainly because of a more aggressive presentation. Although the effect of chemotherapy for premenopausal patients is substantial, recent evidence on 2233 patients suggested that very young women with endocrine-responsive tumors had a statistically significantly higher risk of relapse than older premenopausal patients with such tumors. In contrast, results for younger and older premenopausal patients were similar if their tumors were classified as endocrine nonresponsive. Information from studies on 7631 patients who were treated with chemotherapy alone in trials of three major U.S. cooperative groups showed a similar interaction between the effect of age and steroid hormone receptor status of the primary tumor. Better treatments for very young patients are required and may involve ovarian function suppression in addition to other endocrine agents in patients with endocrine responsive tumors and a more precise investigation of chemotherapy and its timing, duration, and intensity in those with endocrine nonresponsive tumors. Very young women with this disease are faced with personal, family, professional, and quality-of-life issues, which further complicate the phase of treatment decision making. The development of more effective therapies for younger patients requires tailored treatment investigations and cannot rely on information predominantly contributed from older premenopausal women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-51
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the National Cancer Institute. Monographs
Issue number30
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


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