"The study should have a huge impact on doctors and patients", Dr. Kathy Albain, a hematologist/oncologist at Loyola Medicine in IL and a study co-author, said in a press release. The findings indicate that chemotherapy may be considered for the remaining 30% of women.
"We are de-escalating toxic therapy".
Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical and scientific officer for the American Cancer Society said that he was "delighted" by the study and anxious about unnecessary cancer treatment and the side effects that come from chemotherapy.
All the same, he says, the message of the new study isn't that chemotherapy is irrelevant.
Because of her work as a nurse, she was familiar with chemotherapy's sometimes harsh effects.More news: Miss America is scrapping the swimsuit portion from its pageant
The charity Breast Cancer Now said the findings were "practice-changing". Previously, the same study had shown that women with a low risk of recurrence can avoid chemo, and other studies had shown that those with a high risk of recurrence should receive it. "It felt like the worst flu I'd ever had times ten, and you have absolutely no energy".
Trial Assigning IndividuaLized Options for Treatment (Rx), or TAILORx, successfully confirmed the benefit of endocrine therapy alone in patients with early-stage breast cancer who have an Oncotype DX Breast Recurrence Score of 11 to 25. The Oncotype DX RS ranges from 0 to 100 and can predict chemotherapy benefit when the score is high, meaning higher than either 26 or 31.
The result: After an average follow-up of 7.5 years, the researchers saw no added benefit in this group to adding chemotherapy to the treatment mix.
There was some benefit from the chemotherapy for a small subgroup - women with a score of 16 to 25 who were age 50 or younger, Sparano's team said.
Believing she had less than three months to live, she had left her job as a structural engineer and was working her way through a "bucket list" of activities to complete before she died.
Forty nine-year-old Judy Perkins, from Florida, had advanced breast cancer which had stopped responding to chemotherapy and other treatments. Newer care includes gene-targeting therapies, hormone blockers and immune system treatments.More news: Hugh Dane Dies: ‘The Office’s Hank The Security Guard Was 75
It found that Merck pharmaceutical's drug Keytruda (pembrolizumab) - which famously helped former U.S. president Jimmy Carter stave off advanced melanoma that had spread to his brain - helped lung cancer patients live 4 to 8 months longer than chemo.
The new results demonstrate that chemotherapy is not beneficial for most women in the intermediate risk group, the researchers said in a statement.
"I don't know any doctor who isn't excited about this", he said.
"This is another piece of evidence confirming that some cancers are recognisable by the body's immune system and that if this can be stimulated in the right way, even cancers that have spread to different parts of the body may be treatable", said Professor Peter Johnson of the Cancer Research UK Centre at Southampton General Hospital.
The doctors who treated the woman say while their approach is still experimental, they believe it could be adapted to treat other kinds of cancer as well. This characterizes about half of all new breast cancer patients. "Now we're actually peeling back and not treating everyone the same way".More news: Mexico hits back on U.S. steel, slaps tariffs on pork, bourbon