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Study says not all breast cancer patients need chemotherapy
08 June 2018, 10:42 | Rodolfo Wallace
Pancreatic cancer patients could live more than twice as long if given chemotherapy and radiation treatment before surgery
The study is the largest ever done of breast cancer treatment, and the results are expected to spare up to 70,000 patients a year in the United States and many more elsewhere the ordeal and expense of these drugs.
Dr Epstein, a clinical oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre in NY, said the two studies show "the anti-inflammatory benefits of a relatively cheap, well-tolerated supplement". Most women in this situation don't need treatment beyond surgery and hormone therapy, he said.
There was no significant difference in the number of serious side effects experienced between the two groups of patients, the researchers said. Without the stamp money, the study may never have been done, he said.
Data presented at the American Society for Clinical Oncology (Asco) meeting in Chicago showed that 15 per cent of patients given drugs that targeted specific genetic mutations in their tumours survived for three years, compared with 7 per cent of patients who had standard unmatched therapy. Some study leaders consult for breast cancer drugmakers or for the company that makes the gene test. The tumour is then assigned a "recurrence score" from 0 to 100 - the higher the score, the greater the chance the cancer will recur in other organs and decrease survival. When chemo is used now, it's sometimes for shorter periods or lower doses than it once was.
"However, this is a small study so more research is needed before we have clear-cut answers on the benefits of fish oil for easing pain from breast cancer treatment". Doctors know that most don't need it, but evidence is thin on who can forgo it.
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"Until now, we've been able to recommend treatment for women with these cancers at high and low risk of recurrence, but women at intermediate risk have been uncertain about the appropriate strategy to take", said Jeffrey Abrams, M.D., associate director of NCI's Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program.
A new study published Sunday in the New England Journal of Medicine may drastically change how medical professionals approach treating women diagnosed with breast cancer. The study found that for women with hormone receptor (HR)-positive, HER2-negative, axillary lymph node-negative breast cancer, treatment with chemotherapy and hormone therapy after surgery is not more beneficial than treatment with hormone therapy alone. Nine years after the treatment was administered, 93.8% were still alive in the chemo group, while 93.9% were still alive in the endocrine-only group.
Care in cancer isn't a one size fits all, so even though this study has been labeled a breakthrough, Dr. Schmidt says its important to discuss all options and the study criteria with an oncologist. Oncotype DX costs around $4,000, which Medicare and many insurers cover. Similar evaluations like one called MammaPrint are also widely used.
Testing solved a big problem of figuring out who needs chemo, said Dr. Harold Burstein of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
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