Certain women 50 or younger did benefit from chemo; slightly fewer cases of cancer spreading far beyond the breast occurred among some of them given chemo, depending on their risk scores on the gene test.
The study, released this weekend, finds women with the most commonly diagnosed form of breast cancer may not have to undergo chemotherapy.
The study, led by the Albert Einstein Cancer Center in NY, is a rare cancer breakthrough as it can save money and instantly change practice.
The scientists carried out a prospective trial, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, involving around 10,000 women aged 18-75 years with hormone receptor-positive, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-negative, axillary node-negative breast cancer, which accounts for approximately half of all breast cancers.
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"The science is really really cool", said Fleener. He said "Oncologists have been waiting for these results, it will affect practice on Monday morning". Its findings? Many breast cancer patients may be able to skip the chemotherapy process. "It's a great news story".
"The new results from TAILORx give clinicians high-quality data to inform personalized treatment recommendations for women", said lead author Joseph A. Sparano, M.D., associate director for clinical research at the Albert Einstein Cancer Center and Montefiore Health System in New York City and vice chair of the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group.
The new effects are around the 67 percent of women at intermediate risk.
All women like those in the study should get gene testing to guide their care, said Dr. Richard Schilsky, chief medical officer of the oncology society.
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The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute, some foundations and proceeds from the USA breast cancer postage stamp.
The findings are based off a genetic test called Oncotype, which shows if someone is at low, intermediate or high risk of their cancer coming back. Oncotype DX costs around $4,000, which Medicare and many insurers cover. To conduct the study, women in the intermediate groups were either prescribed chemotherapy or given treatment absent of the use of chemotherapy.
The study was extensive so patients who fit in this new category should be very confident with their course of treatment, even if it's without chemotherapy.
"This study is an example of how treatments can be refined in an attempt to work better for patients", said ASCO expert Dr. Andrew Epstein.
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"I think it's been well spent", Singer said of the stamp proceeds. The treatments "weren't pleasant", she concedes. Now, thanks to this new study, doctors can safely say that their hunch was correct all along.