Published: Tue, June 05, 2018
Medicine | By Douglas Stevenson

Landmark Study Finds More Breast Cancer Patients Can Safely Forgo Chemotherapy

Landmark Study Finds More Breast Cancer Patients Can Safely Forgo Chemotherapy

Women affected by the new findings are estrogen-sensitive, test negative for HER2 and have early stage tumors below five centimeters that have not spread to lymph nodes. Usher was one of about 10,000 participants in the study which shows women at low or intermediate risk for breast cancer recurrence may safely skip chemotherapy without hurting their chances of survival.

Doctors at the U.S. National Cancer Institute concluded that Perkins wouldn't survive with conventional therapy and as a result picked her for a radical new therapy which harnessed the power of her immune system to fight the tumours.

Researchers examined the chemotherapy and non-chemotherapy groups for several outcomes, including being cancer free, having cancer recur locally or to distant sites in the body and overall survival.

A promising experimental treatment has left a Florida woman's advanced breast cancer in remission.

The research, involving a genetic test is already available on the NHS and has revealed less than a third of women with the most common form of the disease benefit from the treatment.

"I'd make sure women are educated about the new results especially when they talk to their Oncologist about what additional treatment beyond surgery is needed" said Abraham.

"We are creating a new drug for every patient, targeting the unique mutations in that same patient's cancer".

Previous clinical trials using immunotherapy to treat breast cancer have proved largely ineffective. The National Cancer Institute provided $36 million, and $4.5 million of it came from the money collected from the stamp.

"If confirmed in a larger study, it promises to further extend the reach of this T-cell therapy to a broader spectrum of cancers", said Tom Misteli, director of CCR at NCI.

The study report is published in the journal New England Journal of Medicine.

Patients were randomly assigned to receive hormone therapy or chemotherapy, followed by hormone therapy. Of those women, 6,711 had test scores between 11 and 25, which placed them in the intermediate risk group.

Because of that, many women with early-stage cancer used to be urged to get chemotherapy in hopes of preventing any spread. For women aged under 50 with scores of 16-25, there was some benefit in getting chemotherapy, but for those aged over 50 with scores under 25, or those aged under 50 and scores below 16, there was nothing to be gained from going through the draining process.

Her cancer did not respond to any treatments including chemotherapy and hormone therapy, until this one time treatment with more personalized immunotherapy.

"I have definitely hit the jackpot", said Perkins, a retired engineer from Port St. Lucie, Fla.

"I'm delighted", said Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical and scientific officer for the American Cancer Society, who was not part of the study. The Oncotype DX RS ranges from 0 to 100 and can predict chemotherapy benefit when the score is high, meaning higher than either 26 or 31. "Now we know there's no need to give chemotherapy to those patients anymore", Mitchell said.

"We are now at the cusp of a major revolution in finally realising the elusive goal of being able to target the plethora of mutations in cancer through immunotherapy", he said.

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