Women with common breast cancer may safely skip chemo

A new study found that women in the early stages of breast cancer can avoid chemotherapy.

© U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany Trojca

Around 70 per cent of females that have the most common forms of breast cancer may not need chemotherapy as part of treatment, according to a study by the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, where it was confirmed that using a 21-gene expression test to assess cancer occurrence can keep women away from needing chemotherapy.

“These findings, showing no benefit from receiving chemotherapy plus hormone therapy for most patients in this intermediate-risk group, will go a long way to support oncologists and patients in decisions about the best course of treatment,” Dr. Jeffrey Abrams, associate director of the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program, said in a statement.

The study, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and led by the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group, could certainly help women and their families avoid the cost of chemotherapy.

Dr Otis Brawley, chief medical and scientific officer for the American Cancer Society, said: “I’ve been worried for a long time about unnecessary treatment for cancer, and unnecessary side effects from chemotherapy.

“Now with these genomic tests, we are finding that we have multiple types of breast cancer, perhaps several dozen and we are being able to tailor our therapies to the type of breast cancer every woman has,” he added.

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