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The drugs do work

23rd July 2007

The effectiveness of two very different approaches to treating metastatic breast cancer has been evaluated in separate, soon-to-be-published studies.

An investigation in the US has found that group therapy does not increase survival rates among patients, contradicting previous findings by the same researcher which had indicated weekly psychotherapy sessions could be beneficial.

Dr David Spiegel, from Stanford University School of Medicine, stressed that psychotherapy sessions remained "emotionally helpful".

Spiegel and co-authors will publish their work in September's edition of CANCER, a journal published by the American Cancer Society.

The same publication will report on the success of post-1990 drugs therapies in treating metastatic breast cancer.

Survival rates have improved by a third since the early 1980s, an improvement which the research attributes to a rise in the use of systemic therapy, in particular aromatase inhibitors.

Dr Stephen Chia of the University of British Columbia looked at 2,150 women diagnosed with the disease, some of whom received no treatment while others took hormonal and chemotherapeutic drugs.

Dr Chia and colleagues wrote: "Our population-based study of a large cohort of women with a recent diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer is the first to demonstrate a significant improvement in survival over time."