US Study: 70% of women with early-stage breast cancer can safely skip chemotherapy after their tumours have been removed.

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Some 70 percent of women with early-stage breast cancer and an intermediate risk of cancer recurrence can safely skip chemotherapy after their tumors have been removed, U.S. researchers said on Sunday.

“This is a major finding,” said Dr. Larry Norton, a breast cancer expert at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre in New York, who helped organise the government-funded study more than a decade ago.

“It means that maybe 100,000 women in the United States alone do not require chemotherapy,” Norton said.

The study, published Sunday in the New England Journal of Medicine, analysed how well a widely used genetic test assessed cancer risk, based on 21 genes linked with breast cancer recurrence.

“These data confirm that using a 21-gene expression test to assess the risk of cancer recurrence can spare women unnecessary treatment if the test indicates that chemotherapy is not likely to provide benefit,” lead author Dr. Joseph A. Sparano, associate director for clinical research at the Albert Einstein Cancer Centre, said in a statement. The study was sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and led by the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group.

The study can be accessed here.

Dispatch based on New England Journal of Medicine, Reuters and CNN reports.

 

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