No Mo Chemo

Breast_CancerThousands of early stage breast cancer survivors may not need chemotherapy. That news comes from a new report just released in the New England Journal of Medicine and it could change the way doctors approach breast cancer treatment.

From USA Today:

Thousands of women could skip painful and detrimental chemotherapy in treating early-stage breast cancer, according to a groundbreaking study. 

The decade-long study, discussed Sunday at the American Society of Clinical Oncology conference in Chicago, is hailed as the largest breast cancer treatment trial ever conducted. It showed most patients with an intermediate risk of cancer recurrence can avoid chemotherapy without hurting their chances of beating the disease. 

That could affect up to 70,000 women a year in the USA and thousands more around the world, the study said.

According to, “The takeaway from the study is clear, the lead author, Dr. Joseph Sparano of the Montefiore Medical Center in New York, told me: “We can now approach breast cancer therapy in this population with an unprecedented level of precision and evidence to make informed treatment recommendations of who is most likely to benefit [from chemotherapy] and who is not likely to need it.”

NBC News put together a short video on the study and what it may mean for tens of thousands of women every year. You can watch it by clicking on the picture below.

The New York Times quoted one of the study’s authors, Dr. Ingrid A. Mayer, from Vanderbilt University Medical Center, as saying, ““We can spare thousands and thousands of women from getting toxic treatment that really wouldn’t benefit them. This is very powerful. It really changes the standard of care.”

And the Washington Post added:

The cancer in question is driven by hormones, has not spread to the lymph nodes and does not contain a protein called HER2. Generally, after surgery, such patients receive endocrine therapy, such as tamoxifen, which is designed to block the cancer-
spurring effects of hormones.

Otis Brawley, chief medical and scientific officer of the American Cancer Society, called the trial a good example of “precision medicine” and said it would save many women from unneeded chemotherapy.

An estimated 5,700 Arizona women are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. So, this new study could change the way many of them are now treated. We’d love to hear your thoughts on this breakthrough and what it means for women in our state and across the country. Generating meaningful conversations around the health stories making headlines is another way we are working toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!


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