Health Care

Breast cancer: Test means fewer women will need chemo

Breast cancer: Test means fewer women will need chemo”

"We now know there's a genetic test that they do on patients with early-stage hormone positive breast cancer, and the randomized data for patients with an intermediate score of 10 to 26 now shows that those patients don't need chemotherapy", Mitchell said. Instead, these women will likely remain in remission after having their tumors removed, and then taking estrogen-blocking hormone-therapy drugs.

"The study should have a huge impact on doctors and patients", Albain said.

Cancer experts agree with her assessment.

"The study is going to provide women a piece of information to help them make a very hard decision", said the survivor now celebrating 10-years being cancer-free.

This means in practice doctors can tell 70 percent of these patients they don't need to agonize over whether to get chemo, says study co-author Dr. Kathy Albain, a hematology and oncology professor at Loyola University Medical Center in IL.

Steven Rosenberg, who is leading the ongoing clinical trial, suggests this is an exciting early result, highlighting that this kind of treatment is not cancer-type specific but can be applied to a broad variety of different cancers.

The study gave 10,273 patients a test called Oncotype DX, which uses a biopsy sample to measure the activity of genes involved in cell growth and response to hormone therapy, to estimate the risk that a cancer will recur.

A WOMAN has been completely cured of breast cancer after doctors tweaked her immune system, enabling it to destroy the tumours that had spread through her body.

Patients were randomly assigned to receive hormone therapy or chemotherapy, followed by hormone therapy. It was the women in the intermediate stages of 11-25 who oncologists often had differing views when prescribing standards of care.

"This is something cancer doctors have struggled with", he said.

"I'll be able to look people in the eye and say, 'We analysed your tumor, you have a really good prognosis and you actually don't need chemotherapy.' That's a nice thing to be able to say to somebody".

Carey pointed to some "grey areas" at the boundaries of the recurrance scores that need futher investigation, and said patients would need to discuss these details with their doctors before any decisions on treatement are made.

One difference: In women 50 or younger, chemo was associated with a lower risk of cancer recurrence, although the rates of overall survival were similar. But of the 7,000 women overall in the 11-25 range, 70% wouldn't have actually needed chemotherapy, Kathy Albain, an oncologist at Loyola University Medical Center in IL, told NPR.

This finding could spare 70,000 Americans a year from the ordeal and the expense of chemo.

Forty nine-year-old Judy Perkins, from Florida, had advanced breast cancer which had stopped responding to chemotherapy and other treatments.

Research has shown that Oncotype Dx and other tests, including Breast Cancer Index and EndoPredict, vary in accuracy, particularly when predicting the long-term risk of someone's cancer coming back.

An early form of adoptive immunotherapy, called CAR-T therapy, exhibited severe side effects across many of its clinical trials, including some deaths.

Among the immediate effects are nausea, hair loss, and reduced blood counts.

All the same, he says, the message of the new study isn't that chemotherapy is irrelevant.

Testing solved a big problem of figuring out who needs chemo, said Dr. Harold Burstein of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

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