Many breast cancer patients can skip chemo, big study finds

The research will affect more than 85,000 women who fall into the low and intermediate breast cancer recurrence demographic each year

The research will affect more than 85,000 women who fall into the low and intermediate breast cancer recurrence demographic each year

The test examines 21 genes from a patient's breast cancer biopsy sample to determine how active they are.

Those who score 26 or higher on the scale do benefit and now receive chemotherapy.

Investigators have seen similar results using mutation-targeted TIL treatment for patients in the same trial with other epithelial cancers, including liver cancer and colorectal cancer.

Women aged 50 or younger were the notable exception.

The US trial involved almost 10,000 women with a common type of early stage breast cancer called hormone receptor positive breast cancer, which has not spread beyond the breast. But although Mall returned to health soon after her surgery and remains cancer-free today, she said she was haunted by the uncertainty of her decision.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines on the use of this test are now being reviewed, so new guidance will be available soon on this topic.

Dr. Raymond says the study proves that chemo will hurt more than help women with low risk scores who are over 50.

The team at the US National Cancer Institute says the therapy is still experimental, but could transform the treatment of all cancer. A new U.S. study, TAILORx, has shown that up to 70% of these women could avoid this painful treatment, which has multiple side effects.

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Media coverage of the story was mixed.

Most breast cancers have receptors for the hormones estrogen or progesterone. The BBC presented the idea that the results "would change practice in United Kingdom clinics on Monday", which is very unhelpful to women who are now undergoing chemotherapy or about to start, and who may be uncertain about their need for treatment if reading the news.

Trial Assigning IndividuaLized Options for Treatment (Rx), or TAILORx, successfully confirmed the benefit of endocrine therapy (ET) alone in patients with early-stage breast cancer who have an Oncotype DX Breast Recurrence Score (RS) of 11 to 25. The test scores the tumor from 0 to 100, with a high score-26 or above-indicating that chemotherapy will improve therapeutic efficacy, and a low score-10 or under-suggesting a very low likelihood of distant recurrence at 10 years, which is unlikely to be affected by adjuvant chemotherapy.

Prior to the study, doctors knew women with a low score on the test, less than 11, were told they could skip chemo with no ill effects. Women were separated into 2 groups, one receiving only hormone therapy, the other receiving chemotherapy and hormone therapy.

An RCT is an appropriate way of looking at this. It was designed as a non-inferiority trial.

Judy Perkins, 52, had received a number of failed treatments when she joined a study trialling a new kind of therapy.

What did the research involve?

Of the more than 250,000 women in the USA expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer, the new findings could benefit more than 63,000 with non-invasive, or early stage, disease. The median duration of endocrine therapy was 5.4 years. None of the women in the trial had previously had chemotherapy or radiotherapy for this cancer.

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All women underwent surgery to remove as much of their tumour as possible.

What were the basic results?

"We'll give women in this group about six months of chemotherapy", Brawley said.

However, this effect did vary according to how old the women were.

How did the researchers interpret the results?

"But 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 Rosenberg. Forty percent of women who were 50 years of age or younger had a recurrence score of 15 or lower.

Dr. Albain, the Huizenga Family Endowed Chair in Oncology Research at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, has conducted research with the 21-gene test and also used it in her practice for years.

This week, a trial showed that men given just months or weeks to live after being diagnosed with prostate cancer are surviving for more than a year thanks to a breakthrough in immunotherapy treatment. However, the findings of this study will need to be considered alongside other evidence.

If you have recently been diagnosed or are now undergoing treatment for breast cancer, your healthcare professionals will discuss with you the most appropriate treatment course for your individual cancer and circumstances.

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