Fantastic breakthrough as doctors ‘cure’ woman with advanced breast cancer

Georgia Reed
June 7, 2018

The US team led by Dr Steven Rosenberg, from the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, identified immune system T-cells within the cancerous breast tissue that were able to recognise and target four mutant tumour proteins.

Researchers found most women with early-stage breast cancer can safely skip chemotherapy.

"This is another significant step towards personalised breast cancer treatment and we hope these practice-changing findings will help refine our use of chemotherapy on the NHS". "They really had to pass the hat around", said Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, who had no role in the study but is familiar with its funding history.

The trial focused on HR positive, HER2-negative, node-negative breast cancer, which is the most common type of early stage breast cancer.

Women at low risk could skip chemo.

The Oncotype DX genetic test has been available on the NHS since 2013, but the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) is now updating its guidance on whether it should be recommended for use. It looks for a genetic "signature" in a sample of the tumour and gives a score between 0 and 100, which can help to direct treatment decisions. "But there is a subset group of women under 50 who we know score 16-25 they would have benefit of chemotherapy treatment".

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

Patients, aged 18 to 75, were randomly assigned to receive chemotherapy followed by hormonal therapy or hormone therapy alone.

"For countless women and their doctors, the days of uncertainty are over".

Chemotherapy thwarts cancer's spread but can also cause unwanted side effects such as hair loss, anxiety, depression, nausea, fatigue and heart failure.

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Although this work does indicate that thousands of women can be spared this hard treatment, it doesn't mean skipping chemo is the right choice for all early-stage breast cancer patients. But the intermediate patients with scores of 11 to 25, we have not known what's best for them.

Scientists previously found that women with a low risk of their cancer returning can receive hormone therapy alone. Indeed, a genetic test can be done at the time of the operation to predict the risk of recurrence.

The nine-year-survival-rate was 93.9 percent without chemotherapy and 93.8 percent with chemotherapy.

A doctor exams mammograms, as part of a regular cancer prevention medical check-up at a clinic in Nice, south eastern France. Whether or not to have the treatment is a awful dilemma for many women with certain types of breast cancer as they often don't have clear-cut answers on the benefits.

But there is a note of caution in interpreting the study's findings. Proceeds from the U.S. Postal Service's breast cancer stamp enabled a landmark study that showed which women need chemo and which do not.

He told the BBC: "We think this is a remarkable result".

This was particularly true for women between the ages of 50 and 75.

Those women should carefully discuss their options with their oncologist, said Brawley, because they would likely be candidates for the more aggressive, dual therapies.

"They were able to give the patient's own immune system a major boost".

In a media release, Genomic Health, who makes the Oncotype DX Breast Recurrence Score test, said it provided funding for collection of follow-up information from the treating sites, but was not involved in the planning and execution of the study.

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