Health Care

Women With Early Stage Breast Cancer Can Skip Chemo, Study Says

Women With Early Stage Breast Cancer Can Skip Chemo, Study Says”

Los Angeles Times: "Many breast cancer patients can skip chemo, study finds" - "Most women with the most common form of early-stage breast cancer can safely skip chemotherapy without hurting their chances of beating the disease, doctors are reporting from a landmark study that used genetic testing to gauge each patient's risk".

"For the entire study population with gene test scores between 11 and 25 - and especially among women aged 50 to 75 - there was no significant difference between the chemotherapy and no chemotherapy groups", said the findings, published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The other 16% of women with low-risk are aware of the fact that they can opt out chemotherapy and can go with other treatment alternatives. "But because this new approach to immunotherapy is dependent on mutations, not on cancer type, it is in a sense a blueprint we can use for the treatment of many types of cancer'". More than 10,000 women enrolled in the clinical study.

Dr. Lisa Carey, a breast specialist at the University of North Carolina's Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, said she would be very comfortable advising patients to skip chemo if they were like those in the study who did not benefit from it. When all those methods failed to halt the spread of cancer to her chest and liver, she was sure she was going to die - that is, until she met Dr. Steven Rosenberg at the National Institutes of Health.

Targeted therapies uses information about a person's gene and protein to prevent, diagnose, and treat disease, which makes them extremely applicable in the making of precision medicine.

"Circulating in her body are large numbers of cells we administered to her two and half years ago", he said.

Between 600 and 700 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year at the QEII.

"I was a little relieved". The treatments "weren't pleasant", she concedes.

After taking a small piece of tissue from her tumor, Perkins's doctors studied which mutations appeared in her. "I sort of viewed chemo as extra insurance", she said. "I'm a firm believer in medical research".

The team based at the Leiden University Medical Centre in The Netherlands analysed the anonymised records of 236,015 women who'd been diagnosed with breast cancer before it had spread.

The usual treatment is surgery followed by years of a hormone-blocking drug. But in recent years, as many doctors concluded that women with early-stage cancer were being over-treated, they have reduced their use of chemotherapy, which can cause nausea, fatigue and, in rare cases, more serious complications such as leukemia and heart failure. "Before, we were recommending things without truly being able to precisely tailor it".

Alongside the therapy, Perkins also received doses of pembrolizumab, a standard immune system drug to help cancer patients fight off cancerous cells.

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