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14-05-2018 | Breast cancer | Article

Effect of glucocorticoid use on survival in patients with stage I–III breast cancer

Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

Authors: Ching-Hung Lin, Po-Ya Chuang, San-Lin You, Chun-Ju Chiang, Chiun-Sheng Huang, Ming-Yang Wang, Ming Chao, Yen-Shen Lu, Ann-Lii Cheng, Chao-Hsiun Tang

Publisher: Springer US



Glucocorticoids (GCs) are commonly used in breast cancer patients to ameliorate emesis induced by chemotherapy. Some preclinical studies have suggested that systemic GCs might promote survival of estrogen receptor (ER)-negative breast cancer cells. This study aims to clarify their clinical effect on patient survival.


A total of 18,596 women with newly diagnosed stage I–III breast cancer in 2002–2006 were identified from the Taiwan Cancer Database and drug treatment was examined from the Taiwan National Health Insurance Claims Database. Of these, 3989 who did not receive adjuvant chemotherapy (non-chemotherapy cohort) and 3237 patients who received six cycles of adjuvant anthracycline-based chemotherapy (anthracycline cohort) were included. The impact of GC use on survival was analyzed separately in these two cohorts using Cox proportional hazards models.


In the non-chemotherapy cohort, GC use was associated with aggressive clinicopathological features of breast cancer. High-dose GC was associated with shorter overall survival in univariate analysis but not in multivariate analysis. In the anthracycline cohort, multivariate analysis showed that GC use at each dose level was significantly associated with longer breast cancer-specific survival (HR 0.65, 0.70, and 0.70 for low-dose, median-dose, and high-dose GC, respectively) and overall survival (HR 0.72, 0.76, and 0.73, respectively) when compared with those receiving no GC. The associations were significant in both ER-positive and ER-negative subgroups for breast cancer-specific survival, and in ER-negative subgroup for overall survival.


Concomitant use of GC improved survival in patients receiving adjuvant anthracycline-based chemotherapy for stage I–III breast cancer.

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