New study finds some breast cancer patients may forego chemo

By: Brittany Bedi | WCTV Eyewitness News
June 4, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- A study recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine may change the way breast cancer is treated.

The article states that breast cancer patients with smaller tumors and cancer that hasn’t spread to the lymph nodes may not need chemotherapy.

Doctors use gene expression tests to determine how effective chemotherapy would be on a patient and the possibility of cancer recurrence. They found that people scored in the low range may not benefit from chemo. After the nine-year study, women who underwent chemo had similar cancer-free survival rates as those who did not go through chemo.

“The test that we’ve been using for a number of years now does help us differentiate who needs it and who doesn’t,” said Dr. Tim Broeseker, oncologist at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital Cancer Center. “The problem has been that there’s a lot of women who the results of that test falls in to an intermediate category’ kind of like a gray zone. In this new report, it basically says that women who we put in that intermediate category actually probably don’t need chemotherapy more than they do need it.”

Oncologists at TMH can present a variety of cancer treatment options depending on the patient.

“In the past, we sort of were left with ‘well you may or may not want to do this (chemo) and sometimes women would want to do it to try to minimize their risk. Now we can say to them that their risk is small then the benefit of chemotherapy is pretty minimal, then they probably don’t need to do it,” said Dr. Broeseker.

Breast cancer patients will still need to have surgery to remove any tumors. Radiation therapy and other methods could still be used to treat cancer.

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