Breast Cancer Genetic Test May Help Women Forgo Chemotherapy

Breast Cancer Genetic Test May Help Women Forgo Chemotherapy

Women with early stage breast cancer may now be able to avoid chemotherapy thanks to new groundbreaking research.

A promising experimental treatment has left a Florida woman's advanced breast cancer in remission.

Hormone-receptor-positive, axillary node-negative disease accounts for approximately half of all cases of breast cancer in the US, and the National Institutes of Health has previously recommended adjuvant chemotherapy for most patients, the authors write. This latest study scientifically proves that women over 50 with the most common type of breast cancer will not benefit from chemotherapy if they do not have cancer in the lymph nodes and score low for recurrence.

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However, ACT has been usually less effective with some common epithelial cancers, or cancers that start in the lining of organs that have lower levels of mutations, such as stomach, esophageal, ovarian, and breast cancers.

More than 20,000 women in the United Kingdom are diagnosed with hormone-receptor positive, HER2-negative, node-negative breast cancer annually. Now they can have confidence in those decisions, experts said. Until now, doctors didn't know for sure whether to offer chemotherapy to a large percentage of patients with early stage cancer.

A sample of the tumour is tested after surgery for 21 genetic markers, which indicate if it could grow and spread.

Patients were randomly assigned to receive chemotherapy followed by hormonal therapy or hormone therapy alone.


Patients with a recurrence score of up to 10 out of 100 have previously been shown not to benefit from chemotherapy, and instead need only hormone treatment.

Chemo and hormone therapy didn't work but this one-time treatment with more personalized immunotherapy did work for Perkins.

Laszlo Radvanyi, scientific director of the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, told TheGuardian it was an "unprecedented" result, and could dawn in a completely new age of cancer treatment.

"Oncologists have been getting much smarter about dialing back treatment so that it doesn't do more harm than good", said Steven Katz, a University of MI researcher who examines medical decision-making. A key part - the initial $4.5 million of the cancer institute's $36 million contribution - came from the stamp, said Dinah Singer, who is involved in the institute's use of stamp proceeds. Those women were then randomized into two trials: one received hormone therapy with chemotherapy; the other received hormone therapy alone.

The study did note that these findings may not apply to premenopausal women. "The study showed that if you take the group as a whole, there is no difference in the risk of recurrence when you compare chemotherapy to no chemotherapy".

U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said he expects the agency will still decide in some cases whether terminally ill patients can receive unproven drugs, despite a new law meant to weaken the FDA's power over such cases.

Doctors caring for Ms Perkins during her recovery described her return to health as "remarkable".

After the treatment, all of this patient's cancer disappeared and has not returned more than 22 months later. But they tend to work best on cancers that are influenced by environmental factors and are driven by lots of mutated genes.

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