Date
18 October 2017
Hong Kong Breast Cancer Foundation founder Dr. Polly Cheung Suk-yee (first from left), who is also a specialist in surgery, said census on breast cancer has not yet been started in Hong Kong, adding nearly 70 percent of the breast cancer patients belong t
Hong Kong Breast Cancer Foundation founder Dr. Polly Cheung Suk-yee (first from left), who is also a specialist in surgery, said census on breast cancer has not yet been started in Hong Kong, adding nearly 70 percent of the breast cancer patients belong t

Chemo helps keep breasts intact for cancer patients

Pre-operative chemotherapy can help increase the chances of women keeping their breasts intact, according to the Hong Kong Breast Cancer Foundation (HKBCF).

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

There were 3,883 cases of invasive breast carcinoma and 530 non-invasive carcinoma in 2014, according to the Hong Kong Cancer Registry.

Traditionally, doctors remove tumors from breasts before using chemotherapy or targeted therapy.

A total of 928 patients out of 12,729 confirmed to have breast cancer between 2006 and 2015, had accepted pre-operative chemotherapy and the results were quite good, HKBCF said.

Pre-operative chemotherapy shrinks breast tumors so that wounds caused by operations can be smaller, making it more likely to preserve the breasts as a result.

HKBCF said this treatment method is especially more effective for stage 2 and HER2-type breast cancers.

Of the 286 stage 2 patients who had undergone pre-operative chemotherapy, 46 percent got to keep their breasts.

In comparison, the ratio was only 30 percent among the 5,127 stage 2 patients who had not had pre-operative chemotherapy.

Dr. Kwok Chi-hei, a clinical oncology specialist and a member of the Steering Committee of the Hong Kong Breast Cancer Registry, said doctors would consider pre-operative chemotherapy for breast cancer patients as an option.

However, this treatment method does not mean tumors can be shrunk in every case, he said.

He said that for treatments at public hospitals, some of the chemotherapy drugs are charged at public hospital prices. But patients have to pay for their own cost of the targeted therapy, part of which can cost HK$300,000, although they can apply for drug financial assistance.

A working woman in her forties who suffers from HER2-type breast cancer that is considered more malignant, said she paid HK$530,000 to have her breast tumors removed with no need for breast resection. She had to pay for most medications out of her own pocket.

HKBCF is Hong Kong’s first non-profit charitable organization dedicated to mitigating the threat of breast cancer.

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TL/JC/RA

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