Hypothesis: Induced Angiogenesis after Surgery in Premenopausal Node-Positive Breast Cancer Patients Is a Major Underlying Reason Why Adjuvant Chemotherapy Works Particularly Well for Those Patients
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CitationRetsky, Michael, Gianni Bonadonna, Romano Demicheli, Judah Folkman, William Hrushesky, and Pinuccia Valagussa. 2004. Hypothesis: Induced angiogenesis after surgery in premenopausal node-positive breast cancer patients is a major underlying reason why adjuvant chemotherapy works particularly well for those patients. Breast Cancer Research 6(4): R372-R374.
AbstractBackground: We suggest that surgical extirpation of primary breast cancer among other effects accelerates relapse for some premenopausal node-positive patients. These accelerated relapses occur within 10 months of surgery for untreated patients. The mechanism proposed is a stimulation of angiogenesis for distant dormant micrometastases. This has been suggested as one of the mechanisms to explain the mammography paradox for women aged 40–49 years. We could imagine that it also plays a role in adjuvant chemotherapy effectiveness since, perhaps not coincidentally, this is most beneficial for premenopausal node-positive patients. Hypothesis: We speculate that there is a burst of angiogenesis of distant dormant micrometastases after surgery in approximately 20% of premenopausal node-positive patients. We also speculate that this synchronizes them into a temporal highly chemosensitive state and is the underlying reason why adjuvant chemotherapy works particularly well for that patient category. Furthermore, this may explain why cancer in younger patients is more often 'aggressive'. Testing the hypothesis: Stimulation of dormant micrometastases by primary tumor removal is known to occur in animal models. However, we need to determine whether it happens in breast cancer. Transient circulating levels of angioactive molecules and serial high-resolution imaging studies of focal angiogenesis might help. Implications: Short-course cytotoxic chemotherapy after surgery has probably reached its zenith, and other strategies, perhaps antiangiogenic methods, are needed to successfully treat more patients. In addition, the hypothesis predicts that early detection, which is designed to find more patients without involved lymph nodes, may not be a synergistic strategy with adjuvant chemotherapy, which works best with positive lymph node patients.
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