New Research Shows Experimental Treatment Working For Advanced Cancer Cases

Grant Boone
June 5, 2018

Researchers say the study could affect about 60,000 women a year in the U.S.

Many women with early-stage breast cancer who would receive chemotherapy under current standards do not actually need it, according to a major worldwide study that is expected to quickly change medical treatment.

Dr Alistair Ring, consultant medical oncologist at the Royal Marsden NHS Hospital, in London, said: "I think this is a fundamental change in the way we treat women with early-stage breast cancer and will lead to a considerable number of women no longer needing to have chemotherapy".

Sunday's results came from a federally sponsored trial called TailorX, which was created to help doctors more precisely tailor treatments for early-stage breast cancer.

The test is performed on tumor samples after surgery, to determine if chemo would benefit a patient.

Nine years after their initial treatment 83.3 percent of women treated with just an anti-estrogen medication and 84.3 percent in the anti-estrogen plus chemotherapy group were cancer free. Most women in this situation don't need treatment beyond surgery and hormone therapy, he said.

The study is limited in some ways.

The study, published Sunday in the New England Journal of Medicine, analyzed how well a widely used genetic test assessed cancer risk, based on 21 genes linked with breast cancer recurrence. Secondly, it looked at early stage cancers that had not yet spread to the lymph nodes.

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"You have to balance risk versus benefit and if you can spare people the negative side effects that chemo brings along with the cost, that's big" ABC News' Chief Medical Editor Dr. Jennifer Ashton said on "Good Morning America".

The current study focused on those whose scores were in the middle range, from 11 to 25. They also have a score between 11 and 25 on the Oncotype DX Breast Recurrence Score test. Generally, after surgery, such patients receive endocrine therapy, such as tamoxifen, which is created to block the cancer-spurring effects of hormones. After years of follow-up, the data showed that most patients who did not get chemotherapy fared as well as those who did.

Now, it's much more common to tackle the disease with gene-targeting therapies, hormone blockers and immune system treatments.

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.

"This is another significant step towards personalised breast cancer treatment and we hope these practice-changing findings will now help refine our use of chemotherapy on the NHS", she said.

Perkins said that she could feel the tumors shrinking within the first week of the white blood cells having been pumped into her body.

Oncotype DX is becoming more standard. By finding, isolating and multiplying the tiny subset of immune cells that are still in the fight, then demonstrating their ability to vanquish a patient's tumors, Rosenberg's group has shown that "the cells are there", Mackall said. Crystal L. Mackall, founding director of Stanford University's Center for Cancer Cell Therapy, who was not involved in the treatment. The challenge so far in cancer immunotherapy is it tends to work spectacularly for some patients, but the majority do not benefit.

"We'll give women in this group about six months of chemotherapy", Brawley said.

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