A study has shown that it is safe for women who have undergone surgery for early-stage breast cancer to delay chemotherapy for up to 12 weeks.
Chemotherapy is a proven form of cancer treatment and is known to provide an improved chance of survival when administered following surgery for early-stage breast cancer.
Research published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology has now revealed that there were no significant differences in survival rates between women who had begun chemotherapy within four weeks of surgery, those who had waited between four and eight weeks before commencing therapy, and those who had waited for eight to 12 weeks, Reuters reports.
Between 84 and 89 per cent of women who started chemotherapy within 12 weeks of surgery were alive five years later.
However, patients who delayed their cancer treatment by longer than 12 weeks exhibited lower survival rates, with just 78 per cent still being alive after five years.
Dr Caroline Lohrisch, lead author from the British Columbia Cancer Agency in Vancouver, Canada, revealed: "Our findings can reassure women with early-stage breast cancer that it is okay to take some time before they start chemotherapy -- to gather information and be actively involved in treatment decision-making."
The researchers concluded that patients should be encouraged to start chemotherapy within 12 weeks of breast surgery "to maximise the anticipated benefit".