70 local breast cancer patients participate in medical breakthrough study

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

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

After two years, she still remains cancer-free.

A leading oncologist said the findings will lead to a "fundamental change" in how the disease is treated.

The new study focused on 6,711 women with early stage, hormone receptor-positive, HER2-negative, axillary node-negative breast cancers. There is no published evidence for Keytruda having any effect on HR-positive breast cancer, and the researchers say the short course of the drug is unlikely to have been able to confer such a protracted benefit on its own.

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.

"Those are the cancers that have likely already metastasized and a small amount could be hiding in a woman's lung, liver or bones", said Brawley.

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"What that test does is look at 21 different genes to see if each is turned on or off and then if it is over-expressed or not", Brawley said.

Patients were divided in two groups: those who received 25 irradiation sessions over five weeks, and those who did not undergo further treatment.

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.

On the gene test, whose possible scores range from 0 to 100, 1,629 women had tumors with a low score of ≤10 were given endocrine therapy alone, he reported. Apparently, those who are receiving the said treatment under current medical standards don't actually need it.

Well, a groundbreaking new study says that doesn't need to be the case. "I've been anxious for a long time about unnecessary treatment for cancer, and unnecessary side effects from chemotherapy". "But there is a subset group of women under 50 who we know score 16-25 they would have benefit of chemotherapy treatment". She hadn't felt any lumps or symptoms and had no family history of breast cancer before the diagnosis, she said. The prospective TAILORx study was created to help to discover whether chemotherapy is beneficial for women with a mid-range recurrence score of 11 to 25, as well as to prospectively confirm that a low recurrence score of 0-10 is associated with a low rate of distant recurrence if patients receive endocrine therapy without adjuvant chemotherapy. The side effects are often harsh and debilitating.

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"We'll give women in this group about six months of chemotherapy", Brawley said.

The most significant risk factors for breast cancer are gender (being a woman) and age (growing older).

Overall survival was also higher in the group given this radiation treatment (73.2%) compared to control patients (70.8%).

The technique has previously been used to treat blood cancers and melanoma, but "it is the first time the treatment has been successful for late-stage breast cancer". In addition, women 50 and younger who scored between zero and 15 could be spared chemotherapy and its toxic side effects.

The treatment involves a highly personalized approach and a patient's tumor is genetically analyzed to "identify the rare changes that might make the cancer visible to the immune system".

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