Many breast cancer patients can skip chemo, study finds

"With results of this groundbreaking study, we now can safely avoid chemotherapy in about 70 per cent of patients who are diagnosed with the most common form of breast cancer", said Dr Albain.

After years of waiting, doctors and patients finally got the answer.

The same decade-long study had previously confirmed that patients at low risk, as determined by a genomic test of their tumors, can skip chemotherapy.

Around two thirds of women diagnosed with breast cancer survive the disease, according to Cancer Research UK. Those who score low on the test - from zero to 10 - are already told to skip chemotherapy after their tumors are removed and they receive hormone therapy.

Researchers followed the women for an average of nine years. Now they can have confidence in those decisions, experts said. Other patients may change their treatment approach based on the results.

The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute, some foundations and proceeds from the US breast cancer postage stamp. Generally, after surgery, such patients receive endocrine therapy, such as tamoxifen, which is created to block the cancer-spurring effects of hormones.

"This is a major finding", said Dr. Larry Norton, a breast cancer expert at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in NY, who helped organize the government-funded study more than a decade ago.

However, the results of the TAILORx trial show that only 30pc of women with this particular form of early-stage breast cancer benefit from the treatment.

The findings only apply to women with specific early stage breast cancers.

The study, called TAILORx, is being published by The New England Journal of Medicine and was to be presented Sunday at a meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago.

The TAILORx trial used the Oncotype DX test, which is available on the NHS and which allows doctors to predict the likelihood of the breast cancer returning.

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Women with scores of 10 or lower were considered not to need chemotherapy while those with scores 25 and over were considered to need it.

The big outstanding question was: What should women with "midrange" scores get?

Knowing a patient's recurrence risk can spare them from enduring chemotherapy, but also can direct them towards it if they discover that they are at a higher risk, Sparano says.

But doctors have been unsure how to treat women with scores in the intermediate range of 11 and 25.

This researchers split the middle-scoring group into two randomized subgroups: one treated exclusively with estrogen-blocking hormone therapy, and one with chemo combined with hormone therapy.

Now, the choice is getting easier for some patients.

The researchers did find that some patients who were diagnosed at age 50 or younger and whose risk scores were on the higher end of the mid-range did benefit from chemotherapy. Among younger women with scores 16 to 25, outcomes were slightly better in the chemotherapy group, the study reported.

Because of her work as a nurse, she was familiar with chemotherapy's sometimes harsh effects.

"Immunotherapy is here to stay for the vast majority of non-small-cell lung cancer patients as a first-line treatment". "My brother was so sick that he'd be saying, 'I can't do this anymore, ' and it was the same thing with my sister".

Commenting on the results, Professor Bryan Hennessy, clinical lead, Cancer Trials Ireland, said: "This is a globally important breast cancer trial". Data on incidence rates of breast cancer from six major cancer registries of India show that the annual percentage increase in the incidence of breast cancer has been in the 0.46 to 2.56 per cent range. But many women also are urged to have chemo to help kill any stray cancer cells. But in recent years, as many doctors concluded that women with early-stage cancer were being over-treated, they have reduced their use of chemotherapy, which can cause nausea, fatigue and, in rare cases, more serious complications such as leukemia and heart failure.

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