New study says women with early stage breast cancer can avoid chemotherapy

Many breast cancer patients can skip chemo big study finds

However, new work published in the New England Journal of Medicine and announced at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting shows that for some of the most common breast cancer scenarios, doing without chemotherapy doesn't shorten life expectancy.

"It feels miraculous, and I am beyond amazed that I have now been free of cancer for two years", Perkins said.

The National Cancer Institute sponsored the study, along with several foundations. "They really had to pass the hat around", said Dr Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, who had no role in the study, but is familiar with its funding history.

This is the largest study ever done on breast cancer treatment.

The test examines genes from a patient's breast cancer biopsy sample and allows doctors to assign a patient a "recurrence score" from zero to 100, according to a news release from Loyola Medicine announcing the findings.

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. About 50 percent of all women diagnosed worldwide have hormone-receptor positive, HER2-negative, node-negative cancer.

The TAILORx trial used the Oncotype DX test, now available on the NHS, which allows doctors to predict the likelihood of the breast cancer returning.

However, the results of the TAILORx trial show that only 30% of women with this particular form of early-stage breast cancer benefit from the treatment. The 21-gene test is already in use, but its applicability for those with mid-range scores has been unclear. "So we have two yes-no answers for each gene".

It was first issued in 1998 and has been reissued multiple times since, and has raised more than $86 million for breast cancer research. "It'll be great news for a lot of patients because they will get similar outcomes with less toxic treatment". "They are going to change treatment - and remove uncertainty for women making decisions". Protectively, many of those women have received chemotherapy, which can have devastating side effects, including anemia, a weakened immune system, hair loss, diarrhea, fatigue and memory loss.

The breast cancer epicemic can not be reversed without considering women's exposure to chemical cocktails throughout their lives, argued Professor Andreas Kortenkamp of the University of London, presenting new scientific evidence to the European Parliament.

Thousands of women now have that option thanks to a recent study revealing chemo isn't the only way to go.

Albain said research is ongoing, as scientists are now exploring questions about what types of chemotherapy might be effective on various groups based on their genomics, and what will happen to the participants of the clinical trial as even more time passes.

Researchers followed the women for an average of nine years. After surgery and radiation, those women were randomly assigned to receive chemotherapy with an estrogen-blocking medication or just the estrogen hormone blocker.

Sunday's results came from a federally sponsored trial called TailorX, which was created to help doctors more precisely tailor treatments for early-stage breast cancer. None of the women in the trial had previously had chemotherapy or radiotherapy for this cancer. For these women, the use of both hormones and chemotherapy is recommended.

Avoiding chemotherapy can make a major difference to a woman's quality of life and health.

But there is a note of caution in interpreting the study's findings. If patients with higher scores receive chemotherapy, this risk of recurrence will be significantly reduced, enabling more patients to be cured.

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