Breast cancer treated successfully with immune therapy

Randy Kelley
June 7, 2018

This therapy has allegedly been an essential treatment for many women as it lowers the risk of cancer recurrence, new tumors from appearing, and even death from the disease.

A leading oncologist said the findings will lead to a "fundamental change" in how the disease is treated.

Being able to avoid chemotherapy would be a blessing for thousands of women with breast cancer.

Big news for some women who have breast cancer.

According to the Irish arm's lead investigator, Prof Maccon Keane of University Hospital Galway, this trial result "is a major advance in precision medicine for women with hormone receptor positive node negative breast cancer".

"I'm delighted", said Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical and scientific officer for the American Cancer Society, who was not part of the study.

Hormone-receptor-positive, axillary node-negative disease accounts for approximately half of all cases of breast cancer in the USA, and the National Institutes of Health has previously recommended adjuvant chemotherapy for most patients, the authors write.

Charity Breast Cancer Care said it was a "life-changing breakthrough". By continuing the personalized assessment of an individual's cancer recurrence risk, oncologists can more effectively determine specifically-tailored treatments based on that patient's genomic results.

Those with a recurrence score of up to 10 out of 100 have been shown not to benefit from chemo and those with a score of 26 or higher do benefit.

You'd think if a patient diagnosed with breast cancer had the option of undergoing chemotherapy or safely going without it, the answer would be obvious.

The big outstanding question was: What should women with "midrange" scores get?

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

"It allows us to individualize treatment based on extraordinary science that now has tremendous prospective validation", he said.

Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical and scientific officer for the American Cancer Society said that he was "delighted" by the study and anxious about unnecessary cancer treatment and the side effects that come from chemotherapy. Oncotype DX has spurred the trend, and is likely to accelerate it. "Now we know there's no need to give chemotherapy to those patients anymore", Mitchell said.

Patients, aged 18 to 75, were randomly assigned to receive chemotherapy followed by hormonal therapy or hormone therapy alone.

In 2018, an estimated 266,120 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the USA, along with 63,960 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer.

Because of her work as a nurse, she was familiar with chemotherapy's sometimes harsh effects.

The study found that for participants with gene test scores between 11 and 25 - especially among women ages 50 to 75 - there was no significant difference between the chemotherapy and no chemotherapy groups.

"They were sick all the time", she said.

Findings of the past have indicated that women who met these criteria and scored below ten on the index test could safely skip chemotherapy without raising their rate of recurrence, however, those above 25 would nearly always be advised to use chemotherapy as a necessary treatment to lower risk of recurrence.

Overall survival was also higher in the group given this radiation treatment (73.2%) compared to control patients (70.8%).

The study found that women over 50 scoring up to 25 did not need chemo, nor did women under 50 with a score up to 15. "It is ironic that the very mutations that cause the cancer may prove to be the best targets to treat the cancer".

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