Most Women with Early-Stage Breast Cancer Don’t Need Chemo
Posted on by Dr. Francis Collins
In the last few days, you may have heard that there’s been a significant development in the management of breast cancer. So here’s the NIH Director’s blog description of what’s happened. Each year, as many as 135,000 American women who’ve undergone surgery for the most common form of early-stage breast cancer face a difficult decision: whether or not to undergo chemotherapy. Genetic testing of tumor tissue has helped to inform some of these decisions, with women whose tumors score high on the breast cancer recurrence scale likely to benefit from chemo, and those with low-scoring tumors able to skip the cost and potentially serious side effects. But there’s been a catch: most tumors score somewhere in the middle, leaving women and their doctors uncertain about what to do.
Now, thanks to the long-awaited results of a large, NIH-funded clinical trial, we finally have an answer. About 70 percent of women with hormone receptor (HR)-positive, HER2-negative, axillary lymph node-negative breast cancer—including those with mid-range scores on the cancer recurrence scale—do not benefit from chemotherapy . These findings promise to spare a great many women with breast cancer from unnecessary exposure to costly and potentially toxic chemotherapy.
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Posted In: News
Tags: adjuvant chemotherapy, American Society of Clinical Oncology, ASCO, axillary lymph node-negative breast cancer, breast cancer, cancer, cancer recurrence, chemo, chemotherapy, clinical trial, early-stage breast cancer, gene test, genetic testing, HER2-negative, hormone therapy, HR-positive, lymph node, oncology, Oncotype DX Breast Cancer Assay, TAILORx, Trial Assigning Individualized Options for Treatment