Study says not all breast cancer patients need chemotherapy

Faith Castro
June 8, 2018

Most girls with the most Frequent kind of early-stage Breast cancer may safely bypass chemotherapy without damaging their chances of beating the illness, physicians are reporting from a landmark study that used genetic testing to evaluate every individual's risk.

The study is the largest ever done of breast cancer treatment, and the results are expected to spare up to 70,000 patients a year in the United States and many more elsewhere the ordeal and expense of these drugs.

Most women in this scenario do not require therapy prior surgery and hormone treatment, " he explained.

The trial was supported by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, and designed and led by the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group. "[Secondary treatment with] chemotherapy reduces the risk of recurrence..."

The analysis gave 10,273 patients an evaluation Named Oncotype DX, which utilizes a Biopsy sample to assess the action of genes involved with cell growth and response to hormone treatment, to gauge the risk that a cancer may recur.

"Until now, we've been able to recommend treatment for women with these cancers at high and low risk of recurrence, but women at intermediate risk have been uncertain about the appropriate strategy to take", said Jeffrey Abrams, M.D., associate director of NCI's Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program. The 16 percent with low-risk scores today know they could skip chemo, according to previous results from this study.

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In the study, women were deemed to have a medium level risk of the cancer recurrence based on a 21-gene panel known as Oncotype DX. At five years, the overall survival rate was 98.0 percent for those who received hormone therapy alone and 98.1 percent for those who received both therapies, and at nine years the respective overall survival rates were 93.9 percent and 93.8 percent.

"For women over 50, we can feel quite confident that using the data in this trial to prevent the use of chemotherapy for women with those scores".

Can people trust the outcomes? Similar evaluations like one called MammaPrint are also widely used. "I sort of viewed chemo as extra insurance", she said.

Dr Andrew Epstein, speaking as an expert for ASCO, said: "It's adding to the evidence base that nutritionally supplemental therapies like Omega-3 may have a place in supporting patients as they go through their cancer care".

Jane Murphy, clinical nurse specialist at Breast Cancer Care, said: "It's really interesting to see different avenues are being explored to help women adapt to life after breast cancer, which can be incredibly daunting and hard". Other folks need chemo for the tiniest possibility of advantage.

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