African-American women are also more likely than white women to develop hormone-negative breast cancer, a disease type that is unresponsive to hormone therapy drugs and thus more hard to treat.
It enrolled 10,273 USA women with HR+HER2-AN- breast cancer, which accounts for 23,000 of the 55,000 diagnoses in the United Kingdom each year. “They really had to pass the hat around”, said Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, who had no role in the study but is familiar with its funding history.
This would mean those women can be spared chemotherapy, and its associated side effects, after surgery.
Data presented at the world’s biggest meeting of cancer doctors and scientists in Chicago shows these women have the same survival rates with or without chemo. “It’ll be great news for a lot of patients because they will get similar outcomes with less toxic treatment”.
The TAILORx trial used the Oncotype DX test, which is available on the NHS and which allows doctors to predict the likelihood of the breast cancer returning. All had received a mid-range Oncotype DX score. But this decision is being reviewed. A new USA study, TAILORx, has shown that up to 70% of these women could avoid this painful treatment, which has multiple side effects.
What did the study show? The hormone-blocking drug tamoxifen and related medicines, called endocrine therapy, have become an essential part of treatment for most women because they lower the risks of recurrence, new breast tumors and death from the disease.
The new research now indicates that these women in this range would most likely not benefit from the costly and often physically devastating chemotherapy protocol.
Looking ahead, Sparano hopes to see if this research could be applied to patients whose cancer has already spread to the lymph nodes, which is prognostic for a higher rate of recurrence.
However, there is still uncertainty about the benefit of chemotherapy for most patients who have a midrange score, they specified.
More than 10,000 women, aged 18 to 75, were randomly assigned to receive chemotherapy followed by hormone therapy, or hormone therapy alone.
It’s been nine years and almost all women tested in both groups are still alive.
It’s a major health headline this morning: a landmark new study finds most women with the most common form of early-stage breast cancer can safely skip chemotherapy.
Dr. Lisa Carey, a breast specialist at the University of North Carolina’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, said she would be very comfortable advising patients to skip chemo if they were like those in the study who did not benefit from it. For those people, the side effects of chemotherapy could have been avoided, without making the treatment any less effective. But the researchers who conducted this new controlled experiment found that chemotherapy provided no additional benefit over hormone treatments alone. And for those with scores of 26 or above, 13 percent went on to develop metastatic cancer despite receiving both hormonal treatment and chemotherapy, the team said.
About 17 percent of women had high-risk scores and were advised to have chemo.
Where did these results come from?
Albain is excited to share the study results with her clients in her practice.
Steven Rosenberg, who is leading the ongoing clinical trial, suggests this is an exciting early result, highlighting that this kind of treatment is not cancer-type specific but can be applied to a broad variety of different cancers.