KeepHealthCare.ORG – Study: Breast cancer patients with early stages may forgo chemo | Local News
Women who have the most common form of early-stage breast cancer may be able to safely forgo chemotherapy without hurting their chances of beating the disease, according to doctors from a study that used genetic testing to measure each patient’s risk.
The study was published by the New England Journal of Medicine and was said to be the largest breast cancer treatment study, according to the New York Post, and was funded by the National Cancer Institute, several foundations and proceeds from the U.S. breast cancer postage stamp.
The study focused on cases where chemo’s value increasingly is in doubt: women with early-stage disease that hasn’t spread to the lymph nodes; is hormone positive, which is when its growth is fueled by estrogen or progesterone; and is not the type the drug Herceptin — also known as Trastuzumab — targets, which can treat breast, stomach or esophageal cancer.
“The usual treatment is surgery followed by years of a hormone-blocking drug,” according to the NYP. “But many women also are urged to have chemo to help kill any stray cancer cells. Doctors know that most don’t need it, but evidence is thin on who can forgo it.”
Dr. Ronald Alexander, who’s on the medical staff with Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Cleburne, said cancerous cells are cells that have lost their mechanism for limiting growth. The mass grows and eventually spreads to the rest of the body, resulting in death.
“It is treated with a combination of surgery to remove the tumor, plus a combination of cytotoxic chemicals and radiation treatments,” Alexander said. “New approaches use hormone therapy which is nontoxic.”
The study uses a new test called Oncotype DX to stratify patients into high, medium and low risk, he said.
“The low risk patients received only surgery and hormone therapy,” he said. “The high risk group received surgery, hormone therapy and chemotherapy.
“The medium risk group was divided into two groups, one of which go the high risk treatment and the other of which got the low risk treatment. The results for the two medium risk groups was the same after 10 years.
“Thus, the medium risk group can be spared chemotherapy.”
It will be the patient’s decision if they choose to forgo chemo, he said.
“Some people will prefer not to take the chemotherapy,” he said. “Some will not want the risk of not taking the chemotherapy.”
Information from this
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