Published: Fri, June 08, 2018
Medicine | By Douglas Stevenson

Licking cancer: USA postal stamp helped fund key breast study

Licking cancer: USA postal stamp helped fund key breast study

While trying treatment after treatment, she became a breast cancer advocate and went to California for training by Project Lead, a program run by the National Breast Cancer Coalition.

Most women with the most common form of early stage breast cancer can safely skip chemotherapy without hurting their chances of beating the disease, doctors reported from a landmark study that used genetic testing to gauge each patient's risk.

The results of a long-awaited study were released this week - and it's good news for women with breast cancer: many don't need chemo.

According to first author Joseph Sparano of Montefiore Medical Centre in NY, "any woman with early-stage breast cancer 75 or younger should have the test and discuss the results" with her doctor.

"While the thought of an operation might sometimes be daunting, breakthroughs in surgical techniques have meant that for many patients a lumpectomy with minimal surgery to the armpit glands can be just as effective as more radical treatment". The latest results were presented Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology and published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Few of the researchers consult the drug-makers and companies manufacturing the medicine and conducting gene test for breast cancer.

The three patients were treated by a team at the National Cancer Institute led by Steven Rosenberg, an immunotherapy pioneer who is chief of the surgery branch. It is important to note the study only dealt with Stage 1 invasive breast cancer, estrogen-receptor positive, HER-2 negative patients.

The research is still experimental.

At Mosaic Life Care, we have been using this personalized approach for five years and the study results were a confirmation of our treatment guidelines.

"I came to realize that I was going to die, and that's where my mind was", the 52-year old from Florida told CBS News. "I felt bad for my family, but I was grateful for the life I had had". To treat her, the researchers sequenced DNA and RNA from one of her tumours, as well as normal tissue to see which mutations were unique to her cancer, and identified 62 different mutations in her tumour cells.

The study gave 10,273 patients a test called Oncotype DX, which uses a biopsy sample to measure the activity of genes involved in cell growth and response to hormone therapy, to estimate the risk that a cancer will recur. It involves extracting immune cells from the patient's body, multiplying them, and injecting them back into the patient in much larger numbers.

When they again began growing, she received another batch of cells - more aggressively targeted to her mutation - the following year.

"I think it had been maybe 10 days since I'd gotten the cells, and I could already feel that tumor starting to get soft", Perkins said. 'By then I was like, 'Dang, this is really working'.

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