No need for chemo in many breast and lung cancers, studies show

For some breast cancer patients, the chemo decision may now be easier

"Our study shows that chemotherapy may be avoided in about 70 percent of these women when its use is guided by the test, thus limiting chemotherapy to the 30 percent who we can predict will benefit from it", said lead researcher Dr Joseph A. Sparano, associate director for clinical research at the Albert Einstein Cancer Center and Montefiore Health System in NY.

Women with one of the most common forms of breast cancer may not need to endure chemotherapy, a landmark new study published Monday in the New England Journal of Medicine said.

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.

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among women in the world, and hormone-receptor-positive, HER2-negative, node-negative cancer constitutes about half of the 1.7 million cases diagnosed yearly worldwide.

The TAILORx trial shows that only 30% of women with this particular form of early-stage breast cancer derive any benefit from the treatment. It's called the Oncotype DX test.

New research suggests that more breast cancer sufferers may be able to avoid grueling chemotherapy treatment.

After years of follow up, their results were almost identical with women who received hormone therapy yielding a 93.9 per cent survival rate and those with both therapies a 93.8 per cent survival rate.

"We'll give women in this group about six months of chemotherapy", Brawley said.

The patients then went on to receive either hormonal therapy alone or the combo of hormonal therapy plus chemotherapy. Women with low risk scores - those below 10 - don't need chemotherapy after surgery, and instead can be treated with hormone therapy, previous studies have found. "I've been anxious for a long time about unnecessary treatment for cancer, and unnecessary side effects from chemotherapy".

Compared to 52 women who only received an American Cancer Society pamphlet on chemotherapy, the 48 women in the texting group reported an overall lower level of distress and a higher quality of life during their therapy. "It'll be great news for a lot of patients because they will get similar outcomes with less toxic treatment". The 16 percent with low-risk scores now know they can skip chemo, based on earlier results from this study.

Doctors who cared for the woman at the US National Cancer Institute in Maryland said Perkins's response had been "remarkable": the therapy wiped out cancer cells so effectively that she has now been free of the disease for two years.

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.

Dr. Albain, the Huizenga Family Endowed Chair in Oncology Research at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, has conducted research with the 21-gene test and also used it in her practice for years. They say the data "provide evidence that that adjuvant chemotherapy was not beneficial in these patients".

Thousands of women could skip painful and detrimental chemotherapy in treating early-stage breast cancer, according to a groundbreaking study. Some study leaders consult for breast cancer drugmakers or for the company that makes the gene test. In both groups 89% of women had survived the disease.

"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.

Sparano noted that given the several variations of endocrine therapy now available, women who have trouble tolerating one should try another.

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