Medical

Major Study Finds Many Women Diagnosed With Breast Cancer Can Skip Chemo

Major Study Finds Many Women Diagnosed With Breast Cancer Can Skip Chemo

Researchers used it to estimate the risk that a cancer will come back based on 21 genes linked with breast cancer recurrence.

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.

The treatment, which succeeded after all other conventional treatments had failed, marks the first successful application of T-cell immunotherapy for late-stage breast cancer.

"She knew from that that the benefit of chemotherapy was very low, so she chose to not do chemotherapy, just do the hormone pill, and then also had just a short course of radiation, only three weeks instead of the standard six to seven", said Melissa Mitchell, a radiation oncologist with the University of Kansas Cancer Center.

That's great news, since the short-term side-effects of chemotherapy can include everything from nausea, hair loss, fatigue and infection, to numbness in hands and feet, and other symptoms. "Most women in this situation don't need treatment beyond surgery and hormone therapy", he said, and "the rest of them are receiving chemotherapy unnecessarily".

"Part of the excitement is because all cancers contain mutations, it's a technique that could potentially be applied to any tumor type", Rosenberg said.

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.

More than 10,000 women, aged 18 to 75, were randomly assigned to receive chemotherapy followed by hormone therapy, or hormone therapy alone. Once collected, the cells are armed with cancer-recognizing molecules so that when they are reintroduced into the patient's body they can home in on the tumors and kill them off.

"We went rafting down the Grand Canyon", said Perkins, who has two sons and two stepsons with her husband.

Previous trials involving cancer immunotherapy have found that it "tends to work spectacularly for some patients, but the majority do not benefit", the BBC reports.

However, the results of the TAILORx trial show only 30 per cent of women with this particular form of early-stage breast cancer benefit from the treatment.

Meanwhile, according to Prof Bryan Hennessy, clinical lead of Cancer Trials Ireland, this is a "globally important breast cancer trial". Oncotype DX costs around $4,000, which Medicare and many insurers cover.




Researchers found skipping chemo won't hurt patients' chances of survival.

The team at the US National Cancer Institute says the therapy is still experimental, but could transform the treatment of all cancer.

Simon Vincent, director of research at Breast Cancer Now, added: "This is a remarkable and extremely promising result, but we need to see this effect repeated in other patients before giving hope of a new immunotherapy for incurable metastatic breast cancer".

In some cases, the results will go on to change how patients are treated.

One of the patients texted the program 1,217 times.

The researchers are "trying to find ways" to achieve more consistent outcomes, Goff said.

Rachel Rawson, from the charity Breast Cancer Care, said: "Every day, women with certain types of breast cancer face the awful dilemma of whether or not to have the treatment, without hard facts about the benefit for them".

She had undergone a mastectomy in 2003 after the cancer was first diagnosed.

About 85% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer.

A leading Scottish breast cancer charity described the findings as "incredible" and "game-changing".

In past studies. doctors looked back at the data for patients in this third group and determined that they would benefit from chemotherapy.


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