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Breast cancer: Many patients do not need chemotherapy


Genetic testing can save many breast cancer patients from unnecessary chemotherapy

Breast cancer is treated with chemotherapy in many cases. This treatment not only has significant side effects, but is often unnecessary. Scientists from the United States are now reporting that a large proportion of breast cancer patients could be spared such therapies. They developed a genetic test that should show in advance which women would benefit from the treatment.

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. There are now reports from the USA about another genetic test that is to save cancer patients from chemo.

Many breast cancer patients can be spared chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is usually associated with 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 save 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 magazine "The New England Journal of Medicine".

Hormone blocking drug

According to the 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.

"I will be able to look people in the eye and say:" We have analyzed their tumor, they have a really good prognosis and they actually don't need chemotherapy. "That's good if you can tell someone."

"The results show that we can now save about 70 percent of patients who are 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)

Author and source information

Video: Do All Lymph Node-Positive Breast Cancer Patients Need Chemotherapy? (August 2020).