Thousands of breast cancer patients can avoid chemotherapy, landmark study says

Thousands of breast cancer patients can avoid chemotherapy, landmark study says.

Chemotherapy may be avoided in about 70% of early-stage breast cancer patients, thus limiting chemotherapy to the 30% for whom it can be predicted to be beneficial, a study released on Sunday (3 June) shows.

This means thousands of women will be able to avoid all of the side effects chemotherapy implies, such as nausea, vomiting, hair loss and fatigue, while still achieving positive long-term outcomes.

Empower cancer patients to improve quality of life, say experts

A group of metastatic breast cancer experts has urged policymakers to empower patients with greater choice and participation in their treatment and care, to improve the quality of life of patients, their carers and families.

The researchers performed a prospective trial between 2006 and 2010 involving 10,273 women with hormone-receptor-positive, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)–negative, axillary node-negative breast cancer.

Through genetic testing, they separated women more likely to have recurrent cancer, which could potentially spare thousands from the treatment.

The method was conducted via a recurrence score based on the 21-gene breast cancer which predicts chemotherapy benefit if it is high and a low risk of recurrence in the absence of chemotherapy if it is low, the researchers explained.

The test assigned women a score from 0 to 100, based on the likelihood cancer would return within 10 years. Of the 10,273 women tested, 6,711 (69%) had a score of 11-25.

However, there is still uncertainty about the benefit of chemotherapy for most patients who have a midrange score, they specified.

Unnecessary chemotherapy

The study, earmarked as Trial Assigning Individualised Options for Treatment (Tailorx), was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

It was sponsored by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and led by the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group (ECOG-ACRIN).

Avoiding chemical exposure 'only way to halt breast cancer'

The breast cancer epicemic cannot 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.

It addresses the sensitive issue which is being regularly raised in healthcare today: when is chemotherapy really necessary and when it is not, the underlying question being if the majority of patients is receiving chemotherapy unnecessarily.

Researchers underlined that breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the United States and worldwide.

Time to address the EU’s inequalities in breast cancer diagnosis and care

Across the EU, we have seen positive results for breast cancer care as more women are being diagnosed and treated earlier, leading to higher survival rates. However, while the EU as a whole is making advancement, progress is not consistent across its territory, writes Cristian Silviu Bușoi.



Subscribe to our newsletters