Breast Cancer

Thousands of Breast Cancer Patients Don’t Need Chemotherapy

A study that will change treatment for an estimated 100,000 women with breast cancer concluded that most women with the most common form of breast cancer no longer need chemotherapy. The study used a test, the Oncotype DX test, which is widely used to predict which women will benefit from chemotherapy. The study called the TAILORx trial, focused on breast cancer that has not spread into the lymph nodes and is hormone receptor-positive, meaning cancers that need hormones such as estrogen to grow. The results showed chemotherapy is no longer needed for:

  • Women over the age of 50 with OncotypeDX scores between 0 and 25
  • Women under 50 with the score under 15
  • Those of any age with the score under 10

This represents 70 percent of women with this kind of breast cancer, or an estimated 85,000 to 100,000 women who will no longer need chemotherapy. SurvivorNet medical adviser Elizabeth Comen, who treats breast cancer patients at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, called the study “a game-changer.” And Dr. Larry Norton, Medical Director of the Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center at Sloan Kettering said that doctors can now tell these women “you have a good prognosis, and in many cases a spectacularly excellent prognosis, and chemotherapy with all its inconveniences is not going to help.”

This was the largest breast cancer study ever done with over 10,000 women. And because of the size of the study and the strength of the results, Dana-Farber’s Dr. Harold Burstein says that most women can now be told, “with tremendous confidence” that they don’t need chemotherapy.

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