Breast Cancer: Some Patients May Not Need Chemo-But Beware Misleading Headlines

Breast Cancer: Some Patients May Not Need Chemo-But Beware Misleading Headlines

More than two years on, she is cancer-free and says she has "gone back to normal everyday life", even enjoying strenuous hiking and kayaking trips.

In the nine years of the study, 93.9 percent of the patients only using hormone therapy survived breast cancer.

Bottom line: Figueredo said the study found approximately 70 percent of women with that type of cancer do not need chemo therapy.

'What that test does is look at 21 different genes to see if each is turned on or off and then if it is over-expressed or not. "[The findings] are both important and significant, and also practice-changing", says, Dr. José Baselga, a medical oncologist and physician in chief at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in NY, who was not involved with this research.

"Two people said she should get chemotherapy while two others said she should not".

The latest results should mean more women can avoid chemotherapy, and its associated side effects, without compromising the effectiveness of their treatment.

Trial Assigning IndividuaLized Options for Treatment (Rx), or TAILORx, successfully confirmed the benefit of endocrine therapy (ET) alone in patients with early-stage breast cancer who have an Oncotype DX Breast Recurrence Score (RS) of 11 to 25.

"The uncertainty is over", she said.

For the new study, researchers took lymphocytes from a tumour in the woman's body and scanned them for specific types which reacted to mutant, cancerous cells.

The patients then went on to receive either hormonal therapy alone or the combo of hormonal therapy plus chemotherapy. The patient's cancer could not have spread to the lymph nodes.


The researchers noted that chemotherapy is effective in patients with later-stage breast cancer as well as other forms of the disease.

The woman was 49 when she signed up for the clinical trial after several attempts at a cure through conventional treatments had failed, said the study published in the scientific journal Nature Medicine. Breast cancer remains the second most common cause of death from cancer among females in Australia.

A trial of more than 10,000 women - including 690 Irish women - with the most common form of early breast cancer found the treatment was unnecessary for many after surgery.

James Doroshow, director of the division of cancer treatment and diagnosis at the National Cancer Institute, which was the primary sponsor of the study, predicted that the trial would lead to changes in treatment "for a large number of potential patients". "As an oncologist, on Monday in the clinic, I will offer less chemotherapy that will not be of benefit to patients and that is very reassuring to know that when I am offering patients chemotherapy, they are likely to benefit from it". But as doctors began to learn more about the disease, experts decided many patients were being over-treated.

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

Albain is excited to share the study results with her clients in her practice.

Chemo and hormone therapy didn't work but this one-time treatment with more personalized immunotherapy did work for Perkins. Tuttle was diagnosed with breast cancer last August.

Doctors in the U.S. combined two different forms of immunotherapy after conventional hormone treatments and chemotherapy failed.

The success of this case has raised hopes that the therapy could also be used to treat advanced ovarian and prostate cancers.

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