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“Toxic Effects of Chemotherapy in Breast Cancer”

Today, breast cancer is the most common malignant tumor affecting women.  Chemotherapy has been shown to have a significant impact on reducing the risk for breast cancer recurrence and overall mortality.  Yet, there is insufficient information regarding the long-term sequelae of most chemotherapeutic agents.  Also, the fact that adjuvant chemotherapy is often given to patients who might not really need it urges us to consider the whole spectrum of chemotherapy risks versus benefits to maximize benefit without compromising quality of life.  Anthracycline-based regimens with doxorubicin or epirubicin have been widely used and carry a significant risk for cardiac toxicity, which is dose dependent and the incidence of congestive heart failure (CHF) reaches 5% for doxorubicin and epirubicin.  Population-based studies have clearly shown that breast cancer survivors remain at an increased risk of developing a secondary non-breast cancer (SNBC), estimated that 1 in every 20 patients will develop an SNBC in 10 years, which corresponds to a 22% increase in the relative risk. 

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