A new study of the American Society of Clinical Oncology found that most women with early-stage breast cancer may be able to avoid chemotherapy.
The researchers concluded that patients with smaller-sized tumors that had not spread to the lymph nodes did just as well without chemo as those who got the treatment. “This is a really big deal,” said Dr. Adam Brusky, a coauthor on the new study and a professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. It’s estimated that of the more than 250,000 women in the U.S. expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer more than 63,000 could benefit with non-invasive treatment.
The new study was based on observation of more than 9,000 women with early-stage disease, ages 18 to 75, with cancers hat had not spread to the lymph nodes, cases where doctors have been unsure whether chemo would be helpful. "The study showed that if you take the group as a whole, there is no difference in the risk of recurrence when you compare chemotherapy to no chemotherapy,” said Dr. Sara Hurvitz, an associate professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and director of breast medical oncology at the UCLA/Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. Avoiding chemotherapy can make a major difference to a woman's quality of life and health. The study is the largest ever done of breast cancer treatment.