Published: Fri, June 08, 2018
Medical | By Vicki Mclaughlin

The latest on breast cancer treatments: A chemotherapy breakthrough

The latest on breast cancer treatments: A chemotherapy breakthrough

The time until the pancreatic cancer came back after treatment was also extended in those receiving chemoradiotherapy, 9.9 months on average compared to 7.9 months in those having immediate surgery. Findings from the study will be published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Findings of the past have indicated that women who met these criteria and scored below ten on the index test could safely skip chemotherapy without raising their rate of recurrence, however, those above 25 would nearly always be advised to use chemotherapy as a necessary treatment to lower risk of recurrence.

The scientists carried out a prospective trial, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, involving around 10,000 women aged 18-75 years with hormone receptor-positive, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-negative, axillary node-negative breast cancer, which accounts for approximately half of all breast cancers.

Jane Murphy, clinical nurse specialist at Breast Cancer Care, said: "It's really interesting to see different avenues are being explored to help women adapt to life after breast cancer, which can be incredibly daunting and hard".

Doctors say avoiding chemotherapy can spare women the high costs and side effects of the regimen. The TAILORx study concentrated on people in the intermediate category and determined that chemotherapy for those patients, over 50, is no longer needed either.

The researchers found that the primary endpoint of the trial, invasive disease-free survival - the proportion of women who had not died or developed a recurrence or a second primary cancer - was very similar in both groups. "[Secondary treatment with] chemotherapy reduces the risk of recurrence..." None of these differences were considered statistically significant.

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The hormone treatment is usually taken for between five to 10 years after surgery. The tumour is then assigned a "recurrence score" from 0 to 100 - the higher the score, the greater the chance the cancer will recur in other organs and decrease survival.

Over the years, the Cancer Institute has used its $59.8 million in proceeds for studies trying to improve early detection and to determine which cancers are most risky and need heaviest treatment and which are less so.

The new results are on the 67 percent of women at intermediate risk.

After undergoing surgery and radiation, the women randomly received either chemotherapy plus endocrine therapy or endocrine therapy alone.

There is one caveat to the new findings.

An analysis of a 2015 study of 249 patients found Omega-3 helped relieve symptoms among obese women taking the drug, who are more likely to experience joint pain.

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