Chemotherapy is not needed in 70% of cases of breast cancer

Jun 06, 2018, 13:05
Chemotherapy is not needed in 70% of cases of breast cancer

"Chemotherapy has saved a tremendous amount of lives, and will continue to do so", Dr. José Baselga said, via NPR.

All told, about 70 percent of women with this particular cancer - meaning more than 85,000 women a year in the United States - can safely forgo chemotherapy, the experts concluded.

The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute, some foundations and proceeds from the US breast cancer postage stamp. After 42 weeks of tests, Perkins was completely cancer free and has remained so ever since.

With the results of this trial doctors now have a clearer answer for how to tailor treatment for most women with the most common type of early stage breast cancer.

The usual treatment is surgery followed by years of a hormone-blocking drug.

The same decade-long study had previously confirmed that patients at low risk, as determined by a genomic test of their tumors, can skip chemotherapy.

Still, he acknowledged that most patients with this form of advanced cancer will die within months, and "we need to do a lot more work".

"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. The tumour is assigned a "recurrence score" from 0 to 100 - higher the score, greater the chance the cancer will recur, with chemotherapy reducing the risk of recurrence. It was the women in the intermediate stages of 11-25 who oncologists often had differing views when prescribing standards of care.

Roughly 7,000 women with an intermediate risk participated, some receiving chemo while others didn't. "Breast cancer used to be that deadly disease that women were afraid of and they wanted everything done so they can actually survive".

The hormone-blocking drug tamoxifen and related medicines, called endocrine therapy, have become an essential part of treatment for most women because they lower the risks of recurrence, new breast tumors and death from the disease.

Will people trust the results?

Oncotype DX is not available in India but samples are sent overseas for the test.

Many doctors have been using that test or similar ones for years. She remains free of cancer today, Rosenberg said - the first successful targeting of a deadly mutation called KRAS, which is implicated not only in some colon cancers but in pancreatic and lung cancers. But those women require especially careful consultation, they said. "Patients who had chemotherapy plus an anti- hormone pill versus an anti-hormone pill alone - they had no difference in terms of their survival or outcomes long-term".

Dr. Jennifer Litton at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, agreed, but said, "Risk to one person is not the same thing as risk to another".

Tuttle said just having radiation was tough to go through and can't imagine going through chemo on top of it. Some women 50 or younger, however, did see benefits from chemo.

"The impact is tremendous", study leader, Dr. Joseph Sparano of Montefiore Medical Center in NY, told the Associated Press.

"I was a little relieved".

Litton, the MD Anderson oncologist, said doctors need to consider each case on its own merits; she cautioned against ruling out chemo too quickly. Women 50 or younger can avoid chemo if their scores are lower than 16, said lead author Joseph Sparano, associate director for clinical research at the Albert Einstein Cancer Center in NY.

If doctors had recommended she skip chemo based on the gene test, "I would have accepted that", she said.

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