Some Breast Cancer Patients May Not Need Chemotherapy: Key Points From a Groundbreaking Study by Dr. Shayna Mancuso
The results of a 10-year, international clinical trial on breast cancer and chemotherapy has been making top headlines. This groundbreaking study may save thousands of women from receiving chemotherapy as part of their breast cancer treatment regimen. Here are the key points outlining the study and what you need to know:
- Researchers looked at women with an early stage and common form of breast cancer: hormone receptor positive, HER-2 negative, and lymph node negative.
- The researchers focused in on a 21-gene test, Oncotype DX. This test has routinely been performed on tumor samples after surgery to help determine if chemo is needed or not. The gene test assigns a score from 0-100. Historically, scores below 10 do not require chemo, and scores greater than 25 do. The study highlighted those women with scores between 11-25.
- Researchers found that for women over 50 years of age with a recurrence score of 11-25, chemotherapy could be spared. They also found that for women under 50 years of age with a score of 0-15, chemo may also be avoided.
- In those women, who will not require chemo after surgery, endocrine therapy is still recommended. Endocrine therapy has its own array of side effects, yet usually much milder than a standard chemotherapy regimen
Important note in the study: It was discovered that in younger women (under 50) with scores of 16-25, outcomes were better if these women did, in fact, continue to receive chemo. This groundbreaking study will impact thousands of women, potentially sparing them from toxic chemotherapy protocols.
The trial was supported by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, and led by the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group. The study will be published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
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