Washington, Mar 18 (ANI): A group of international researchers have shown that breast cancer sufferers who go into remission but then have their cancer return are at up to half the risk of dying from the disease if its return is spotted early.
Researchers have warned that doctors should continue to monitor breast cancer patients closely and try to identify returning 'secondary' tumours before symptoms appear.f detected early enough patients have a 27 to 47 per cent better chance of survival than women whose cancer is picked up later.
The team who carried out the latest study said that it was the most comprehensive assessment of how early detection could prevent deaths from secondary breast cancer.
"Intuitively, it makes sense to consider that early detection of second breast cancers will improve prognosis, since breast cancer survivors have a long-term risk of developing further disease or relapse in either breast," Nehmat Houssami, from the University of Sydney's School of Public Health, who led the study, said.
However, she added, there had been a "paucity of evidence" about the benefits of early identification.
According to the research, "recommendations on follow-up after treatment of early breast cancer should consider our findings, which suggest that early detection of second breast cancer events improves prognosis in this ever-increasing group of women".
The study looked at 1,044 women who had attended a clinic in Florence, Italy, between 1980 and 2005.
While the majority of the tumours were identified by a mammogram, the results show that a significant number, 14 per cent, were picked up only by clinical examination.
The study has been published in the journal Annals of Oncology. (ANI)