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Some breast cancer patients can avoid chemotherapy

Tumor score determines whether chemotherapy is necessary

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MIAMI – Years ago, women who were diagnosed with breast cancer knew they would almost certainly face radiation or chemotherapy, or a combination of both.  

Doctors now say up to 70 percent of patients may not need to undergo chemotherapy as part of their treatment depending on their tumor score. 

The study enrolled 10,000 women with early stage breast cancer.

"They're hormone receptor positive and her2-negative and they have no lymph node involvement," said Dr. Alejandra Perez, medical oncologist at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

The patients' tumors were tested with the oncotype DX test to determine the chance of recurrence. 

"Based on that recurrence score, you are assigned into a low-risk category, an intermediate group or high risk," Perez said.

The patients that scored in the middle were split into two groups.

"One got hormonal therapy with chemotherapy and the other just got hormonal therapy," Perez said.

What Perez and the researchers found was remarkable.

"If you look at overall survival, it was 98 percent for both groups. That means 70 percent of women, we can avoid chemotherapy," Perez said.

Perez said the results of the study don't apply to all breast cancer patients. She said pre-menopausal women who scored in the middle may benefit from chemotherapy. So always discuss treatment options with your doctor. 

To learn more about the oncotype dx test and the results of the TAILORx study visit: 

https://www.cancer.gov/news-events/press-releases/2018/tailorx-breast-cancer-chemotherapy

https://news.umiamihealth.org/en/most-early-stage-breast-cancers-no-longer-need-chemo/?print=pdf