Breakthrough breast cancer study means fewer women needing chemotherapy

Breakthrough breast cancer study means fewer women needing chemotherapy

"I think everyone will now feel more comfortable with their decisions", Dr. Otis Brawley, MACP, FASCO, FACE, chief medical and scientific officer for the American Cancer Society, told Healthline.

The study enrolled 10,273 women, of whom 9719 with follow-up data were included in the main analysis set; 6711 women (69%) had an intermediate recurrence score of 11-25, while 1619 (17%) had a low recurrence sore of 10 or less and 1389 (14%) had a recurrence score of 26 or higher.

"Moving forward, when women are making this decision, this study will help us put it into perspective and give them better advice next week than we were able to give them last week", said Litton, who was attending the conference where the results were discussed.

The new study of almost 7,000 women found that use of the already available Oncotype DX gene test could pinpoint those women who needed chemotherapy, and those who did not. "I sort of viewed chemo as extra insurance", she said. "With all the side effects that chemotherapy has, if there's any way it can be avoided, if it's not necessary, you don't want to give it, you don't want to take it", Yost said.

Patients were divided in two groups: those who received 25 irradiation sessions over five weeks, and those who did not undergo further treatment.

The new treatment finds T-cells that are successfully killing the patient's tumours and manufactures billions of clones in the laboratory.

The study's lead author, Dr. Joseph Sparano, the associate director for clinical research at the Albert Einstein Cancer Center in NY, says patients with early stage breast cancer should consider this kind of testing. The tumour is assigned a "recurrence score" from 0 to 100 - higher the score, greater the chance the cancer will recur, with chemotherapy reducing the risk of recurrence.

Each year more than 20,000 women in the United Kingdom are diagnosed with hormone-receptor positive, HER2-negative, node-negative breast cancer.

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Researchers followed the women for an average of nine years. They also have a score between 11 and 25 on the Oncotype DX Breast Recurrence Score test.

Dr. Lisa Carey, a breast specialist at the University of North Carolina's Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, said she would be very comfortable advising patients to skip chemo if they were like those in the study who did not benefit from it.

For many patients, it's a hard choice to decide whether to go through chemotherapy. She also had new drugs to overcome a cancer's ability to shield itself from the immune system.

The findings apply to about 60,000 women a year in the United States, according to Dr Joseph A Sparano of Montefiore Medical Center in NY, the leader of the study. Some study leaders consult for breast cancer drugmakers or for the company that makes the gene test.

"We are thrilled by this early finding, but we must remember that this type of immunotherapy remains an experimental approach that has a long way to go before it might be routinely available to patients". "But we need to be precise on when to use it and who to recommend it to". Newer care includes gene-targeting therapies, hormone blockers and immune system treatments.

How does the study fit into the debate over "de-escalating" treatment of early-stage breast cancer? But researchers found that fewer patients in the radiation group had died from breast cancer compared to the control group - 15.8% vs. 19.7%.

"Patients should not make any changes to their treatment based off this study, and should always consult their doctors".

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