Breast cancer trial shows signs of hope for patients

For some breast cancer patients, the chemo decision may now be easier

Breast cancer treatment: More women may avoid chemotherapy thanks to breakthrough research

A doctor exams mammograms, as part of a regular cancer prevention medical check-up at a clinic in Nice, south eastern France.

Over the years, the Cancer Institute has used its $59.8 million in proceeds for studies trying to improve early detection and to determine which cancers are most risky and need heaviest treatment and which are less so.

The findings were released at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting in Chicago, the world's largest annual cancer conference.

'I'm delighted. I've been anxious for a long time about unnecessary treatment for cancer, and unnecessary side effects from chemotherapy, ' Dr. Otis Brawley, the chief medical and scientific officer for the American Cancer Society who was not part of the study, said. "We must be crystal clear that it applies to a very specific (and significant) subset of women", Darren Saunders, a cancer biologist at the University of New South Wales in Australia, writes in the Conversation.

A trial of more than 10,000 women - including 690 Irish women - with the most common form of early breast cancer found the treatment was unnecessary for many after surgery.

Most women with the most common form of early-stage breast cancer can safely skip chemotherapy without hurting their chances of beating the disease, doctors are reporting from a landmark study that used genetic testing to gauge each patient's risk. The researchers' published paper is entitled "Adjuvant Chemotherapy Guided by a 21-Gene Expression Assay in Breast Cancer".

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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.

Of those, 6,711 scored in the intermediate range of 11-25, and were randomly assigned hormone therapy alone or hormone therapy plus chemotherapy. There was no benefit in terms of overall survival, disease-free survival, or cancer spread beyond the breast.

However, chemotherapy did offer some benefit to women aged 50 and younger who had a cancer recurrence score of 16-25, researchers found.

Among women younger than 50, outcomes were similar when gene test scores were 15 or lower.

Commenting on the results, Professor Bryan Hennessy, clinical lead, Cancer Trials Ireland, said: "This is a globally important breast cancer trial. We are de-escalating toxic therapy".

The breast cancer epicemic can not be reversed without considering women's exposure to chemical cocktails throughout their lives, argued Professor Andreas Kortenkamp of the University of London, presenting new scientific evidence to the European Parliament.

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His excitement was echoed by Tom Misteli, director of cancer research at the US National Cancer Institute. Such patients have been in "the gray zone, and we haven't known what to tell them", Kurian said. The drug was approved in 2014 for melanoma and in 2015 for lung cancer.

"You have to balance risk versus benefit and if you can spare people the negative side effects that chemo brings along with the cost, that's big" ABC News' Chief Medical Editor Dr. Jennifer Ashton said on "Good Morning America". "To have your health professional tell you don't need chemo, there's one side glad you don't have to have it and the other wondering are we really taking care of my breast cancer", said Garner.

Perkins underwent several rounds of chemotherapy but the cancer kept spreading and doctors gave her just months to live.

Once a tumor is removed, 21 genes are analyzed and patients receive a low - intermediate - or high risk of reoccurrence.

The new treatment finds T-cells that are successfully killing the patient's tumours and manufactures billions of clones in the laboratory.

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