Thousands of breast cancer patients can avoid chemotherapy, landmark study says

Thousands of breast cancer patients can avoid chemotherapy, landmark study says

Thousands of breast cancer patients can avoid chemotherapy, landmark study says

The study, published yesterday (June 3) in The New England Journal of Medicine, included more than 10,000 women with the same type of breast cancer: early-stage, hormone-receptor-positive, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-negative breast cancer.

"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", study co-author Jeffrey Abrams, associate director of the National Cancer Institute's Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program, which supported the trial, said in the statement.

Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical and scientific officer for the American Cancer Society said that he was "delighted" by the study and anxious about unnecessary cancer treatment and the side effects that come from chemotherapy.

"This new study really gives us good reliable data based on almost 7,000 patients, that if you have an intermediate risk score, you don't benefit from chemotherapy", said Dr. John Rimmer, Breast Cancer Surgeon.

The research, involving a genetic test is already available on the NHS and has revealed less than a third of women with the most common form of the disease benefit from the treatment.

The study, presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting in Chicago, is thought to be the largest breast cancer treatment trial ever conducted. It's called the Oncotype DX test.

The team at the U.S. National Cancer Institute say that an immunotherapy treatment used on a woman suffering from advanced stage breast cancer with barely months to live, has helped her keep cancer away for two years.

This researchers split the middle-scoring group into two randomized subgroups: one treated exclusively with estrogen-blocking hormone therapy, and one with chemo combined with hormone therapy. The most common chemotherapeutic regimens used to treat women in the dual, chemoendocrine therapy group were either a docetaxel-cyclophosphamide regimen or anthracycline-containing regimens.

One of the most exciting aspects of this trial is the emergence of robust, large-scale data supporting the use of "precision medicine"-using genetic profiles to dictate treatment and predict outcomes in cancer". The women in the "unfavourable" range had to receive chemotherapy.

Dr Steven Rosenberg, a leading member the medical team, said: "This patient came to us in a desperate situation, with every treatment having failed".

Prior to the study, doctors knew women with a low score on the test, less than 11, were told they could skip chemo with no ill effects. Two and a half years later, all signs of her cancer have disappeared.

You'd think if a patient diagnosed with breast cancer had the option of undergoing chemotherapy or safely going without it, the answer would be obvious.

That could affect up to 70,000 women a year in the United States of America and thousands more around the world, the study said. Nine-year rates were similar for iDFS (83.3% vs 84.3%), DRFI (94.5% vs 95.0%), RFI (92.2% vs 92.9%), and OS (93.9% vs 93.8%) for the RS 11 to 25 arm.

It works by looking at the activity levels of 21 genes, which are markers of how aggressive the cancer is. Protectively, many of those women have received chemotherapy, which can have devastating side effects, including anemia, a weakened immune system, hair loss, diarrhea, fatigue and memory loss. For context, about 12.4% of women in the US-or about 20 million-will likely develop breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.

Researchers share preliminary and more advanced results.

These women would instead be treated with radiation, surgery, and hormone therapy.

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