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Executive Summary

CHEMOTHERAPY FOR BREAST CANCER "MAY REDUCE OR DELAY" RECURRENCE in susceptible women, the American Cancer Society said in an Aug. 12 position statement. The society said that chemotherapy and/or radiation "may be recommended" if an examination of lymph nodes shows evidence of cancer. Chemotherapy or hormone therapy, the society stated, may lead to shrinkage of the tumor and prolonged remission. The position statement observes that some patients treated with chemotherapy may require "short periods of hospitalization," although treatment on an ambulatory basis is the normal mode. Drug reactions are individualized and are usually temporary, the society maintained. In the statement, which summarizes the society's view of different treatment approaches, the society concluded that "no one approach ]is[ suited to the needs of all patients with breast cancer." The statement was adopted by the society's board of directors at a June meeting. Testing of the tumor for hormone receptors is "extremely important," particularly in the management of recurrent breast cancer, the statement notes. "A woman undergoing breast surgery for possible cancer should make a specific request of her physician to do this hormone receptor test," the American Cancer Society recommended. * Treatment of early breast cancer may include "removal of the tumor and some adjacent breast tissue, removal of the quadrant which contains the cancer and partial removal of axillary lymph nodes, or complete axillary lymph node removal" -- all frequently followed by radiation of the remaining breast tissue, the position paper states. Surgical procedures suggested by the society for the removal of the breast are simple or total mastectomy, modified radical mastectomy, or radical mastectomy. The American Cancer Society position statement also encourages women to discuss with their surgeon the possibility of having a biopsy done first, with a determination of the appropriate surgery made after the final pathology report. "Such a time interval offers the opportunity for further discussion, additional studies, if needed, and another consultation should the physician and/or patient wish to have one," the statement emphasizes.

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