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New study says women with early stage breast cancer can avoid chemotherapy

07 June 2018, 01:05 | Franklin Nunez

For some breast cancer patients, the chemo decision may now be easier

Adine Usher 78 meets with breast cancer study leader Dr. Joseph Sparano at the Montefiore and Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx borough of New York. Usher was one of about 10,000 participants in the study which shows women at low or inter

Last Updated: June 03, 2018.

"Our study shows that chemotherapy may be avoided in about 70 percent of these women when its use is guided by the test, thus limiting chemotherapy to the 30 percent who we can predict will benefit from it", said lead researcher Dr Joseph A. Sparano, associate director for clinical research at the Albert Einstein Cancer Center and Montefiore Health System in NY.

Hormone-receptor-positive, axillary node-negative disease accounts for approximately half of all cases of breast cancer in the US, and the National Institutes of Health has previously recommended adjuvant chemotherapy for most patients, the authors write.

The women had a specific type of breast tumor known as "hormone receptor-positive, HER2-negative, and axillary node-negative".

These results provide assurance that getting gene tested is a valuable first step for patients with this type of breast cancer.

However, the results of the TAILORx trial show only 30 per cent of women with this particular form of early-stage breast cancer benefit from the treatment.

The results of what is considered the largest breast cancer treatment trial ever made were recently presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in the United States.

These are the results from a single patient and much larger trials will be needed to confirm the findings.

More than two years on, she is cancer-free and says she has "gone back to normal everyday life", even enjoying strenuous hiking and kayaking trips.

A woman with late-stage breast cancer that had spread throughout her body is now completely clear of the disease, thanks to a treatment that used her own immune cells to destroy the cancer. They also have a score between 11 and 25 on the Oncotype DX Breast Recurrence Score test.

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Women with scores of 10 or lower were considered not to need chemotherapy while those with scores 25 and over were considered to need it. "The trial was created to address this question, and provides a very definitive answer".

Oncotype DX is becoming more standard. The presence of hormone receptors in these tumours means that they respond to hormone therapy.

Researchers studied their outcomes, including whether or not cancer recurred, and their overall survival.

However, chemotherapy did offer some benefit to women aged 50 and younger who had a cancer recurrence score of 16-25, researchers found. "While this practice has contributed to declining rates in breast cancer mortality, "...the majority of patients may receive chemotherapy unnecessarily".

"Being able to say to a patient that truly there's no benefit for chemotherapy in your case, based on a test of your cancer, that's a very powerful intervention", Burstein added in an interview.

About 40,920 women in the USA are expected to die in 2018 from breast cancer, though death rates have been decreasing since 1989. First, this is a study of just one form of breast cancer and the authors found that chemo could still benefit some patients with the cancer - mainly younger women, regardless of their tumor's genetic "score". I also, then, lost my hair.

In recent years, many doctors have reduced their use of chemo, which can cause nausea, fatigue and, in rare cases, more serious complications such as leukemia and heart failure.

Olufunmilayo Olopade, director of the Comprehensive Cancer Risk and Prevention Clinic at University of Chicago, said the study helps move forward the push for precision medicine - a philosophy of treating patients with the right medicine for their exact problems at a defined time.

A new breast cancer study funded by the National Cancer Institute looked at women diagnosed with breast cancer that hadn't spread to lymph nodes and is hormone-positive.

This study only focused on women diagnosed with breast cancer. men were not included in the study.



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