Estimating the benefits of adjuvant systemic therapy for women with early breast cancer

Br J Surg. 2001 Nov;88(11):1513-8. doi: 10.1046/j.0007-1323.2001.01902.x.


Background: Prognostic factors are commonly used to help identify women with node-negative breast cancer at high risk of recurrence. Although many are available, knowing which risk factor or combination of factors to use to estimate prognosis for an individual woman is often difficult. This study documented the baseline prognoses for a group of women with node-negative breast cancers, and estimated the potential benefits of adjuvant systemic therapy.

Methods: Ten-year, actuarial, cause-specific survival based on tumour size and histological grade using data from the Swedish Two-County Trial of mammographic screening was calculated for 1200 women with node-negative cancers of less than 30 mm diameter. The benefits of adjuvant systemic therapy for these women were then estimated using the published odds reductions in death from adjuvant systemic therapy from the Early Breast Cancer Trialists' Collaborative Group overview.

Results: The absolute 10-year survival benefits for subgroups of women based on tumour size and histological grade were estimated for women aged under 50 years by the addition of chemotherapy, and over 50 years by the addition of tamoxifen and/or chemotherapy.

Conclusion: Decisions about adjuvant systemic therapy in women with node-negative breast cancer need to be individualized, taking into account treatment efficacy and toxicity. The quantitative methods presented in this paper facilitate such decisions.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal / therapeutic use
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / surgery
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant / methods
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammography / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / prevention & control
  • Prognosis
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Survival Analysis
  • Tamoxifen / therapeutic use


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Tamoxifen