Send to

Choose Destination
Front Public Health. 2013 Nov 11;1:49. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2013.00049. eCollection 2013.

Sequential Metastatic Breast Cancer Chemotherapy: Should the Median be the Message?

Author information

Department of Epidemiology, Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center , Houston, TX , USA.
University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing , Pittsburgh, PA , USA.



Counseling and anticipatory guidance of the expected course of treatment for women newly diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) are difficult due to multiple factors influencing survival following MBC therapy. In order to better tailor counseling at the onset and through the duration of MBC we used non-clinical trial data to better characterize real life experience of sequential MBC treatment. We examined the following aims: (1) What demographic and tumor characteristics are predictive of survival in MBC? (2) What is the median duration of each sequential chemotherapy regimen and subsequent survival of women following each sequence of chemotherapy regimen in MBC?


Retrospective study included 792 women diagnosed from January 1999 through December 2009 at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute Breast Cancer Program.


Median duration of sequential chemotherapy regimen and median survival from completion of sequence of chemotherapy regimens were relatively short with a wide range of treatment duration and survival. Characteristics for poor survival included hormone status, human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 (HER 2/neu) status, and increased number and type of metastatic sites. Women who took more than the second sequential chemotherapy regimens had no more than median 3 months of treatment duration and 6 months survival from treatment termination.


Median clinical response and survival shorten with sequential chemotherapy regimen but with wide ranges. The rare clinical response of the minority should not set the standard for treatment expectations. All cancer clinicians, including oncology nurses, must ensure that patients are receiving tailored counseling regarding their specific risks and benefits for sequential MBC chemotherapy.


chemotherapy; metastatic breast cancer; sequential treatment; survival; treatment counseling

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Frontiers Media SA Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center