Study Shows Chemo Not Always Necessary for Breast Cancer

Study Shows Chemo Not Always Necessary for Breast Cancer

Many women with early-stage breast cancer may not require chemotherapy as part of their treatment plan, according to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Previously, the National Institutes of Health recommended chemotherapy as an additional secondary treatment for many breast cancer patients. This practice reduced the risk of recurrence and has lowered mortality rates. However, it has been discovered that chemotherapy might not be necessary for a select group of patients.

Details of the Study

The new study followed nearly 9,717 women with estrogen receptor-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer. All women were in the early stages of the disease. Of all participants, 67% were found to have an intermediate risk of recurrence.

After surgery and radiation, some women received an estrogen hormone blocker, while others received the same medication in addition to chemotherapy. The treatment was randomly assigned.

Nine years after the initial treatment, just under 85% of women from both intermediate-risk treatment groups have remained cancer free. Additionally, 95% of these women had no recurrence at a distant site.

Who This Affects

If a woman is diagnosed with estrogen receptor-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer, it is possible that she won’t benefit from chemotherapy. The cancer must be diagnosed in the early stages, meaning tumors are small and the cancer hasn’t spread to the lymph nodes. To determine this specific diagnosis, genetic testing is done to examine 21 cancer-associated genes.

Moving Forward

The results of this study will undoubtedly change treatment options for many women in the future. Chemotherapy can be a necessary part of a patient’s treatment plan, but these recent findings have proven that some women who suffer from breast cancer can have successful treatment without chemotherapy.