Many Breast Cancer Patients May Not Need Chemotherapy

Posted June 07, 2018

"I'm delighted", said Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical and scientific officer for the American Cancer Society, who was not part of the study.

The findings will lead to a "fundamental change" in the way the disease is treated, a leading oncologist said, with an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 United Kingdom women likely to avoid chemotherapy every year as a result.

"We are de-escalating toxic therapy".

The team at the U.S. National Cancer Institute say that an immunotherapy treatment used on a woman suffering from advanced stage breast cancer with barely months to live, has helped her keep cancer away for two years. "I had a tumour in my chest that I could feel shrinking", she said.

Dr. Butler recalls the study and local women who participated and believes it's a medical breakthrough in the treatment of breast cancer.

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"Chemotherapy is no Shangri-La", Brawley said.

That's great news, since the short-term side-effects of chemotherapy can include everything from nausea, hair loss, fatigue and infection, to numbness in hands and feet, and other symptoms. Researchers used it to estimate the risk that a cancer will come back based on 21 genes linked with breast cancer recurrence.

The study, dubbed TAILORx, was also published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The new study of almost 7,000 women found that use of the already available Oncotype DX gene test could pinpoint those women who needed chemotherapy, and those who did not. "I want to live - period.' I can't say how I would have responded to this study, but when it's your life, you'd rather deal with the frightful effects of chemo for a relatively short amount of time than die".

According to the Irish arm's lead investigator, Prof Maccon Keane of University Hospital Galway, this trial result "is a major advance in precision medicine for women with hormone receptor positive node negative breast cancer".

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Usually, after the removal of the tumor, many women undergo chemotherapy combined with hormonal treatment to prevent any return of the cancer. Among women younger than 50, outcomes were similar when gene test scores were 15 or lower. In less than three weeks, the cancer was completely eradicated from her body. Tuttle was diagnosed with breast cancer last August. "While this practice has contributed to declining rates in breast cancer mortality, "...the majority of patients may receive chemotherapy unnecessarily".

Chemotherapy is the use of chemical substances to remove any remaining cancer cells after a surgery to remove a tumour. "Experts may call it extended remission but I call it a cure".

Albain said research is ongoing, as scientists are now exploring questions about what types of chemotherapy might be effective on various groups based on their genomics, and what will happen to the participants of the clinical trial as even more time passes.

The company now provides tests to more than 900,000 patients in more than 90 countries, Shak said.

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"One of the challenges that we've had in breast cancer is we thought once size fit all, and everyone was getting too much treatment", Olopade said.