As per a study recently revealed at Chicago’s American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting, approximately 70% of women with an early breast cancer diagnosis might not need to undergo chemotherapy as a treatment.
The study looked into how well a much-used genetic test evaluated cancer risk via 21 genes connect to the recurrence around breast cancer.
As lead author of the study, Dr. Joseph A. Sparano relayed, the data confirmed that the 21-gene expression test to measure cancer risk recurrence will be able to spare some females unnecessary chemo treatment if the test reveals that this would not be beneficial.
CNN reported that Dr. Otis Brawley, who is not part of the study, but the Chief Medical and Scientific Officer for American Cancer Society, chimed in the results stating he was delighted with the results, and had been concerned for some time regarding unnecessary cancer treatments with the side effects of chemo. He added that with these genomic tests, they are finding a variety of different breast cancer types that doctors are now able to modify therapies depending on the kind of breast cancer a female has.
Women who would be able to find other treatments for their breast cancer must fall under the requirements of being estrogen-sensitive, have a HER2 negative test, and show signs of being within the early stages of breast cancer with tumors lower than five centimeters that have not reached lymph nodes. They must also score from 11 and 25 on their Oncotype DX Breast Recurrence Score test.
Previous studies have revealed the females who hit zero to 10 on their scores could also skip chemo, and those with scores over 25 would benefit when adding this treatment to their hormonal plan. As Brawley noted, those types of cancers would be the ones that spread and could linger in places like a female’s bones, the liver, or lungs; therefore, chemo should also work along with a hormonal treatment.
Still, medical practitioners have not been sure of the best way to treat females who have a score of 11 and 25, so, many have undergone chemo as a result. Sadly, this treatment has terrible side effects, including a weakened immune system, anemia, hair loss, fatigue, memory loss, and diarrhea. Thanks to these new study results, it seems many can overcome their breast cancer condition via a hormone treatment alone.
Still, there is one thing to note regarding the study, and that has to do with premenopausal females. Women younger than 50 who hit scores on the higher range (16-25) were analyzed on their own and did show some benefit to adding chemotherapy to their treatment plan, as tumors tend to grow more aggressively in this female demographic.