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Thousands of breast cancer patients could be spared chemotherapy

Thousands of breast cancer patients could be spared chemotherapy

In the trial, researchers gene tested more than 10,000 patients across six countries with the most common form of early breast cancer, hormone-receptor positive, HER-2 negative breast cancer that hadn't spread to the lymph nodes.

One of the big questions facing women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer is whether to be treated with chemotherapy to reduce their risks that the cancer will return.

Women with early-stage HER2-negative breast cancer who have a score of 10 or below are usually not prescribed chemotherapy.

"Irish women contributed significantly to this trial and can be rightly proud of their input into improving care for future women who present with breast cancer".

More than 60,000 women a year in the US could be affected, according to a lead researcher Dr. Joseph A. Sparano of Montefiore Medical Center in NY, and 70 percent of patients who would be potential candidates for chemo could be spared.

Rachel Rawson, clinical nurse specialist at Breast Cancer Care, said: "This life-changing breakthrough is absolutely wonderful news as it could liberate thousands of women from the agony of chemotherapy".

Oncotype Dx is a test created to predict the risk of breast cancer coming back.

Women with cancer are given scores that come from genetic tests that analyze the tumors and look for the presence of 21 genes that have been associated with a high likelihood of recurrence. The Oncotype DX RS ranges from 0 to 100 and can predict chemotherapy benefit when the score is high, meaning higher than either 26 or 31.

Patients were randomly assigned to receive chemotherapy followed by hormonal therapy or hormone therapy alone. Most women who fit this criteria need only surgery and hormone therapy, he said.

"... Because this new approach to immunotherapy is dependent on mutations, not on cancer type, it is, in a sense, a blueprint we can use for the treatment of many types of cancer", said Dr. Steven Rosenberg, the chief of the surgery branch at the National Cancer Institute's Center for Cancer Research. "The gray area has been the mid-range RS score of 11 to 25-this target population accounts for about 50% of women in the United States", Soprano said.

In an article commenting on the results of Dr Rosenberg's trial, Dr Laszlo Radvanyi of the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research said they provided evidence that "we are now at the cusp of a major revolution" in cancer immunotherapy. Until now, doctors didn't know for sure whether to offer chemotherapy to a large percentage of patients with early stage cancer. In certain cancer types such as prostate or breast, hormones could cause the growth of tumors. "While this practice has contributed to declining rates in breast cancer mortality, "...the majority of patients may receive chemotherapy unnecessarily".

It provides important information on a safe way to cut back treatment, an issue that has prompted vigorous debate not only for breast cancer but also for other malignancies. Simply put, the side effects are disgusting: In addition to nausea, vomiting, hair and weight loss, chemo drugs can damage the heart and nervous system, and in rare cases, even cause different types of cancer.

However, they said chemotherapy also produces a lot of side effects. Oncotype DX and other genomic tests have spurred a trend sure to accelerate following Sunday's report.

The researchers are "trying to find ways" to achieve more consistent outcomes, Goff said. "They are going to change treatment - and remove uncertainty for women making decisions".

There is no known cure for breast cancer patients whose disease has spread so widely.

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