Unbelievable breakthrough as doctors ‘cure’ woman with advanced breast cancer

A new class of patients could soon be treated for breast cancer, no chemotherapy required.

Hormone-receptor-positive, axillary node-negative disease accounts for approximately half of all cases of breast cancer in the US, and the National Institutes of Health has previously recommended adjuvant chemotherapy for most patients, the authors write.

The findings will lead to a "fundamental change" in the way the disease is treated, a leading oncologist said, with an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 United Kingdom women likely to avoid chemotherapy every year as a result.

The phase III clinical trial, named "TAILORx", followed over 10,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer between 2006 and 2010. However, most breast cancer occurs in older women.

Phyllis Laccetti, a participant in the TailorX breast cancer study, at her home in Ossining, NY.

How does the study fit into the debate over "de-escalating" treatment of early-stage breast cancer?

The majority of women with a common form of breast cancer may be able to skip chemotherapy after surgery, based on their score on a genetic test, researchers said Sunday.

Six in 10 women had a recurrence score of between 11 and 25, and were randomly assigned to have either hormone therapy or a combination or hormone therapy and chemotherapy.

In past studies. doctors looked back at the data for patients in this third group and determined that they would benefit from chemotherapy.

But most women get an intermediate result meaning they are unclear as to what to do.

"With the results of this groundbreaking study, we can now safely avoid chemotherapy in about 70 per cent of patients who are diagnosed with the most common form of breast cancer".

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Carey pointed to some "grey areas" at the boundaries of the recurrance scores that need futher investigation, and said patients would need to discuss these details with their doctors before any decisions on treatement are made.

Peter Johnson, an oncology professor at the Cancer Research UK Centre, said the study confirmed the immune system can recognize some cancers, and "if this can be stimulated in the right way, even cancers that have spread to different parts of the body may be treatable".

The results are even more impressive because breast cancers, like prostate and ovarian cancers, have relatively few mutations - which makes it much harder for the immune system to differentiate and attack them. Simply put, the side effects are terrible: In addition to nausea, vomiting, hair and weight loss, chemo drugs can damage the heart and nervous system, and in rare cases, even cause different types of cancer.

She added: "We hope to see NHS Scotland adopt this practice as soon as possible".

She's very aware that most patients with metastatic breast cancer aren't as fortunate and that experimental approaches can entail big risks.

Chemo and hormone therapy didn't work but this one-time treatment with more personalized immunotherapy did work for Perkins.

Dr Steven Rosenberg, a leading member the medical team, said: "This patient came to us in a desperate situation, with every treatment having failed".

A patient's tumour is genetically analysed to identify the rare changes that might make the cancer visible to the immune system. Oncotype DX costs around $4,000, which Medicare and many insurers cover.

Well, we do this test of 21 genes.

"Chemotherapy is an absolute cornerstone of breast cancer treatment, but with the side-effects being nearly unbearable for some we must ensure it is only given to those that will benefit from it".

The researchers are "trying to find ways" to achieve more consistent outcomes, Goff said.

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