Study finds chemo might be unnecessary for some forms of breast cancer

Local News

New research is changing the way we look at cancer treatments, specifically breast cancer. The study, released this weekend, finds women with the most commonly diagnosed form of breast cancer may not have to undergo chemotherapy.

More: Nearly 70 percent with the most common breast cancer could skip chemo, study says

The finding is for women who’ve been diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer, specifically those who are hormone-receptor positive, HER2 negative, and node-negative cancer.

Susan Nelson works with cancer patients every day at Susan G. Komen East Tennessee and she’s a survivor for 16 years now. Chemotherapy helped get Nelson to today.

“As you get away from it, it seems like it’s not quite as hard as it was,” said Nelson. “I know that while it was going on, it was very hard.”

While Nelson says she had a common form of breast cancer, her disease required chemotherapy. She says hearing about this new study is thrilling.

“There is new stuff coming up all the time and it’s making an impact. It’s making a difference,” added Nelson.

The findings are based off a genetic test called Oncotype, which shows if someone is at low, intermediate, or high risk of their cancer coming back.

“It does show that women who fall into the intermediate category may not necessarily need to pursue chemotherapy if they have certain parameters associated with their breast cancer. So this is actually a huge finding for us int he world of medical oncology,” said Dr. Susan Newman, an oncologist at UT Medical Center.

Dr. Newman says there is one caveat, “We still need to be very cautious in our young patient population with breast cancer, anyone under the age of 50. This test is useful but it may not necessarily tell the whole story.”

Organizations focused on curing breast cancer say chemotherapy is not one-size-fits-all treatment any more.

“It’s exciting. Every time we make a new advancement in research we think about our bowl goal. Komen announced last year that we were going ot reduce mortality by 50 percent by 2026 and the way we’re going to do be able to do that is to reduce barriers and look at the genetic makeup of tumors,” said Amy Dunaway, Executive Director of Susan G. Komen East Tennessee.

Nelson says this new information gives hope that one day we may live in a world without breast cancer, “There’s very little I wouldn’t do for the opportunity to continue this journey with my children and my grandchildren.”

Dunaway says this study is a reminder that every time we donate or take part in a race or walk for the cure, we’re helping fund research which gets us closer to finding a cure.

Oncologists saying the study randomized women in the intermediate category of this genetic test. Some were given chemotherapy along with hormonal blocking medications, while others simply received hormonal blocking meds.

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