Many With Early Breast Cancer May Not Need Chemo

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Women 50 or younger can avoid chemo if their scores are lower than 16, said lead author Joseph Sparano, associate director for clinical research at the Albert Einstein Cancer Center in NY.

Researchers have unveiled a study suggesting that 70 percent of women with HER2-negative breast cancer that hasn't spread to the lymph nodes get no extra benefits from undergoing chemotherapy.

'Every day, women with certain types of breast cancer face the awful dilemma of whether or not to have the treatment, without hard facts about the benefit for them'.

These results provide assurance that getting gene tested is a valuable first step for patients with this type of breast cancer. Similarly, women with high risk scores - above 25 - should receive chemotherapy in addition to hormone therapy. However, this left the majority of women with the condition (those who fall into the 11 - 25 range) and their doctors without clear treatment guidance.

The patients in this group were randomly assigned to chemotherapy with supplemental hormone therapy or just hormone therapy alone.

Then, researchers studied the outcomes, including whether or not cancer recurred, and overall survival.

When Perkins received her experimental therapy just before Christmas 2014, she said she sensed the optimism of the National Cancer Institute researchers who devised this new approach to immunotherapy.

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"Most women diagnosed with breast cancer are over 50, but younger women can also get breast cancer", says the NHS on its website.

According to the study, gene tests on tumor samples were able to safely identify which women could safely forego chemotherapy.

In a very different type of immunotherapy called CAR-T therapy, a patient's T-cells, the warriors of the immune system, are removed, and then genetically re-engineered in a lab to better recognize the patient's own cancer.

Alan Melcher, professor of translational immunotherapy at the Institute of Cancer Research in London, who was not involved in the study said: "The work shows that even cancers like breast cancer, which don't have many antigens, are amenable to this sort of treatment".

Chemotherapy is often used after surgery to reduce the chance of breast cancer spreading or coming back.

Those women should carefully discuss their options with their oncologist, said Brawley, because they would likely be candidates for the more aggressive, dual therapies.

Women with a score above 25 generally are given chemotherapy.

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Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in India.

That's great news, since the short-term side-effects of chemotherapy can include everything from nausea, hair loss, fatigue and infection, to numbness in hands and feet, and other symptoms.

WHEN THIS Delhi-based businesswoman was recently diagnosed with early stage breast cancer, her world came crashing down.

Although mortality rates have decreased significantly over the last few decades, breast cancer is estimated to cause more than half a million deaths globally every year. It was uncertain whether the benefits of chemotherapy were enough to justify the risks and toxicity.

Oncotype DX first hit the market in 2004.

Litton, the MD Anderson oncologist, said doctors need to consider each case on its own merits and cautioned against ruling out chemo too quickly.

Patients with a recurrence score of up to ten out of 100 have previously been shown not to benefit from chemotherapy and need only hormone treatment.

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"I have definitely hit the jackpot", said Judy Perkins. They could potentially encourage patients to incorrectly avoid or stop treatment-with potentially tragic consequences. Minute amounts of these natural T-cells infiltrate the tumor, though they aren't present in high enough quantities to combat the growing cancer, Rosenberg said.