How is systemic breast cancer treated?

Updated: Apr 23, 2020
  • Author: Joseph A Sparano, MD; Chief Editor: John V Kiluk, MD, FACS  more...
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Treatments for systemic disease are used to prolong survival and improve quality of life. Considerations in treatment selection are as follows:

  • In patients with ER and/or PR expression who have no or minimal disease symptoms and bone-only disease or a low disease burden, endocrine therapy is always preferred to other therapeutic options because of its favorable toxicity profile relative to other alternatives

  • Chemotherapy is used in patients with resistance to endocrine therapy or ER/PR-negative disease and a moderate or high disease burden

  • Single-agent sequential cytotoxic therapy is preferred; combination cytotoxic therapy is associated with a higher response rate, but it is also more toxic and confers no survival benefit

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