Health Care

Many women with common breast cancer can safely skip chemo, study says

Many women with common breast cancer can safely skip chemo, study says

Dr. Raymond says the study proves that chemo will hurt more than help women with low risk scores who are over 50.

The majority of women with the most common type of early-stage breast cancer can safely skip chemotherapy after surgery, according to a highly anticipated new report.

In the USA, the most recent data shows around 135,000 new cases yearly of the specific breast cancer studied, says Dr. Joseph Sparano, an oncologist at Montefiore Medical Center, a professor of medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the lead author of the study.

"If confirmed in a larger study, it promises to further extend the reach of this T-cell therapy to a broader spectrum of cancers", said Tom Misteli, director of CCR at NCI.

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.

The soldiers or the white blood cells are now extracted and the ones that can specifically fight the cancer are identified and isolated.

Those with a recurrence score of up to 10 out of 100 have been shown not to benefit from chemo and those with a score of 26 or higher do benefit.

Now, women diagnosed in the early stages have more treatment options available to them.

The study is limited in some ways.

Experts cautioned, however, that the findings may not apply to those who have larger tumors or those with cancer that has started to spread, or metastasize.

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Usually, after the removal of the tumor, many women undergo chemotherapy combined with hormonal treatment to prevent any return of the cancer.

In the trial, more than 6,700 patients were split into two groups.

"You have to balance risk versus benefit and if you can spare people the negative side effects that chemo brings along with the cost, that's big" ABC News' Chief Medical Editor Dr. Jennifer Ashton said on "Good Morning America".

The study found that for participants with gene test scores between 11 and 25 - especially among women ages 50 to 75 - there was no significant difference between the chemotherapy and no chemotherapy groups. They also have a score between 11 and 25 on the Oncotype DX Breast Recurrence Score test.

The same conference heard that the drug pembrolizumab, already approved for lung cancer, resulted in longer survival times and milder side-effects for non-small cell lung cancer patients than traditional chemotherapy treatment.

Those who score 26 or higher on the scale do benefit and now receive chemotherapy.

American researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) have developed a novel approach to immunotherapy that leads to the complete regression of breast cancer in a patient who was unresponsive to all other treatments. Oncotype DX has spurred the trend, and is likely to accelerate it.

The trial is due to enrol around 330 patients to fully put the technique through its paces, and should be able to generate statistically-validated results in 2023.

Still, he acknowledged that most patients with this form of advanced cancer will die within months, and "we need to do a lot more work".

"Chemotherapy is no Shangri-La", Brawley said.


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