Medicine

Breast Cancer Study: Chemo Not Required

Breast Cancer Study: Chemo Not Required

There are several factors that determine whether or not a patient will, in fact, be able to forgo the chemo, most significant being if they score in the mid-range or lower for risk that their cancer will recur, as measured by a common genomic test.

"The impact is tremendous", said the study leader, Dr. Joseph Sparano of Montefiore Medical Center in NY.

The breast cancer study focused on cases where chemo's value increasingly is in doubt: women with early-stage disease that has not spread to lymph nodes, is hormone-positive (meaning its growth is fueled by estrogen or progesterone) and is not the type that the drug Herceptin targets. "We originally, years ago, just did surgery, and then for many many years, everybody got chemotherapy, and now we know that we have these anti-hormonal drugs and pills that women can take". Most women in this situation don't need treatment beyond surgery and hormone therapy, he said. He said "Oncologists have been waiting for these results, it will affect practice on Monday morning". "Any woman with early-stage breast cancer age 75 or younger should have the 21-gene expression test and discuss the results with her doctor to guide her decision to the right therapy". "It's a great news story".

Cancer treatment has been growing from chemotherapy - elderly drugs When chemo is utilized today, it is occasionally for shorter intervals or lower doses than it was.

Pancreatic cancer patients treated with chemotherapy and radiotherapy before surgery may live longer than those who have immediate surgery, according to unpublished clinical trial results.

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The study was supported in part by the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Komen Foundation, and the Breast Cancer Research Stamp.

"There are side effects to it, joint aches and hot flashes, but certainly significantly less than chemotherapy", CBS News medical contributor Dr. David Agus, a cancer specialist, said on "CBS This Morning" Monday. The money was used to pay for the gene test, which costs more than $4,000 per person. Similar evaluations like one called MammaPrint are also widely used. She said hearing about the new study is thrilling.

There is one caveat to the new findings. Others want chemo for even the smallest chance of benefit. She said, "I was in the grey area". Her hair fell out, she developed an infection and was hospitalized for a low white blood count, "but it was over fairly quickly and I'm really glad I had it".

She says without this new research, all she could do was follow her doctors' recommendations.


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