Study says not all breast cancer patients need chemotherapy

Grant Boone
June 8, 2018

At the moment, women who get a low score on the test are told they do not need chemo, those with a high score are told they definitely do.

Many women with early-stage breast cancer can safely avoid chemotherapy as part of their treatment, according to a major study.

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

The scientists carried out a prospective trial, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, involving around 10,000 women aged 18-75 years with hormone receptor-positive, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-negative, axillary node-negative breast cancer, which accounts for approximately half of all breast cancers. He said "Oncologists have been waiting for these results, it will affect practice on Monday morning. It's a great news story".

Cancer care has been evolving away from chemotherapy - older drugs with harsh side effects - in favor of gene-targeting therapies, hormone blockers and immune system treatments.

"This life-changing breakthrough is absolutely wonderful news as it could liberate thousands of women from the agony of chemotherapy".

"The study should have a huge impact on doctors and patients - its findings will greatly expand the number of patients who can forgo chemotherapy without compromising their outcomes", said Kathy Albain, chair of oncology research at Loyola University School of Medicine, in Chicago, USA, and co-author of the study.

The study was supported in part by the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Komen Foundation, and the Breast Cancer Research Stamp. Of those, 67% (6,711) received scores of 11 to 25 on the gene test, which indicated an intermediate risk of cancer recurrence.

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"There are side effects to it, joint aches and hot flashes, but certainly significantly less than chemotherapy", CBS News medical contributor Dr. David Agus, a cancer specialist, said on "CBS This Morning" Monday. Oncotype DX costs around $4,000, which Medicare and many insurers cover.

"We need to know what is really causing these diseases so we can treat them properly".

"This study is an example of how treatments can be refined in an attempt to work better for patients", said ASCO expert Dr. Andrew Epstein. She said hearing about the new study is thrilling. Others want chemo for even the smallest chance of benefit.

10 decades back in Montefiore and has been assigned to the team awarded chemo.

"Testing solved a large issue of figuring out that desires chemo, said Lots of women believe" if I do not get chemotherapy I will die, and when I get chemo I'm likely to be treated", but the results show there is a sliding scale of advantage and sometimes not one, " he explained.

"I was a little relieved". "The remedies" were not agreeable", she concedes.

She says without this new research, all she could do was follow her doctors' recommendations.

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