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More Women Can Safely Forgo Chemotherapy

According to data from a study conducted in 2018, most women with breast cancer in its early stage don’t always need chemotherapy. This means most women can now avoid the toxicity associated with chemotherapy as well as the time and monetary burden of this treatment option.

About the study’s data

Researchers in this study evaluated the results of over 10,000 women who had breast cancer and who had undergone the Oncotype DX test. Doctors perform this test on the tumor to assess the recurrence risk by examining the cancer genes’ activity, which contribute to cell growth and how they respond to hormone therapy and chemotherapy.

Women were only involved in a study with tumors that were negative for HER2 (human epidermal growth factor receptor), estrogen receptor positive (ER+) tumors, and had negative lymph nodes.

About 17% of women that met the criteria for the study had a high-risk score, and were recommended for chemotherapy. About 16% of women had low-risk scores and were advised to go for hormonal therapy. The remaining 67% were at an intermediate risk. Most of these women underwent hormone therapy and cancer surgery, and 50 percent of them got chemotherapy.

Nine years later, 94% of women from both groups were still alive, and approximately 84% of the survivors didn’t have any cancer signs. The implication here is that chemotherapy didn’t make any difference in their cancer types.

The future of chemotherapy

Even before the study, the treatment standards for breast cancer had been drifting away from chemotherapy for certain patients. Because of the emerging personalized and advanced treatment methods, most oncologists don’t recommend chemotherapy. Besides, as the scientific studies into immunotherapy and targeted therapy intensify, less chemotherapy will be required.

According to experts, women facing a high-risk of breast cancer recurrence and who suffer from breast cancer that is HER2-positive, triple-negative, or lymph-node positive, may benefit from chemotherapy.




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