Genetic test shows when chemotherapy is unnecessary in breast cancer patients
When women are diagnosed with breast cancer, it is often followed by stressful chemotherapy. However, this treatment is unnecessary for many patients. A new study has now shown that genetic tests can show in advance which women benefit from such therapy - and which not.
Most common cancer in women
Breast cancer, also called breast cancer, is the most common malignant tumor in women. In Germany alone, up to 70,000 new cases are counted each year. Many patients have to undergo chemotherapy with stressful side effects. But health experts have long been pointing out that this is not always useful for breast cancer. German experts recently reported on new genetic tests that are supposed to make unnecessary chemotherapy for breast cancer unnecessary. However, not all experts are convinced of their benefits. However, studies in the USA have now shown that such tests can actually help to save many cancer patients from chemo.
Many breast cancer patients can be spared chemotherapy
Chemotherapy is usually accompanied by severe side effects such as hair loss, fatigue, nausea and vomiting.
However, if the cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, the draining treatment can be dispensed with in many cases.
This is also shown by a new study from the USA. As a result, women with early breast cancer who are currently receiving chemotherapy according to current standards do not need this treatment.
"We can prevent thousands and thousands of women from getting toxic treatment that really wouldn't benefit them," said study author Dr. Ingrid A. Mayer from Vanderbilt University Medical Center opposite The New York Times (NYT).
The results of the study were presented at a meeting of the "American Society of Clinical Oncology" in Chicago (USA) in early June and published in the specialist journal "The New England Journal of Medicine".
Hormone blocking drug
According to NYT, the study showed that genetic tests on tumor samples were able to identify women who could safely skip chemotherapy and only take a drug that blocks the estrogen hormone or prevents the body from making it.
According to the experts, the hormone blocking drug tamoxifen and related drugs have become an essential part of treatment for most women because they reduce the risk of new breast tumors recurring and death from the disease.
"I think this is a very significant step forward," said Dr. Larry Norton of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. He is not the author of the study himself, but the hospital in which he works was involved in the investigation.
"I will be able to look people in the eye and say:" We analyzed their tumor, they have a really good prognosis and they don't really need chemotherapy. "That's good if you can tell someone that."
"The results show that we can now save about 70 percent of patients who would be potential candidates for chemotherapy due to clinical features," said study leader Dr. Joseph A. Sparano of the Montefiore Medical Center in New York.
However, Dr. Sparano and Dr. Mayer added a warning: The data also showed that some women who are 50 years or younger could benefit from chemotherapy, even if the results of the genetic tests suggest otherwise.
It is not clear why this is so, but these women need particularly careful advice.
In addition, despite all the risks that chemotherapy can bring, it should not be forgotten that in many cases such treatment can save lives. (ad)