Study finds many breast cancer patients can skip chemotherapy

Many early-stage breast cancer patients in Pennsylvania and around the world may not need to undergo chemotherapy, according to a new study. The results of the study were presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago on June 3. They were also published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Doctors currently use a 21-gene test to assess a breast cancer patient's risk of recurrence. Researchers from the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group analyzed the effectiveness of this test and found that it can accurately predict if a woman would benefit from chemotherapy. That means that around 70 percent of women diagnosed with early-stage hormone-receptor positive, HER2-negative breast cancer can safely skip chemotherapy and stick with estrogen-blocking treatments.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the world. Approximately 1.7 million new cases have been diagnosed over the past six years. Around 50 percent of all patients are diagnosed with an early-stage of the estrogen-sensitive, HER2-negative form of the disease, meaning that it has not spread to the lymph nodes. When a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, she is given a genetic test and receives a score that predicts the likelihood of recurrence. Women with low scores are advised not to undergo chemotherapy, while those with high scores are advised to receive chemotherapy. However, until now, doctors were unsure whether women with intermediate scores should be treated with chemotherapy. The study found no statistical advantage to treating those women with chemo.

The earlier a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, the better her chances of survival. Doctors who fail to diagnose cancer could be sued for medical malpractice. Victims of misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis could learn more about the lawsuit process by contacting an attorney.

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