Rethinking Chemotherapy In Some Breast Cancer Cases
A new study released Sunday says that many women with early-stage breast cancer may not necessarily need chemotherapy as part of their treatment.
Women older than 50 with a midrange risk — defined in the study as a score of 11 to 25 on a tumor test — can skip chemo and just have endocrine therapy. Women 50 or younger can avoid chemo if their scores are lower than 16, said lead author Joseph Sparano, associate director for clinical research at the Albert Einstein Cancer Center in New York. (Women in the younger-age category who have higher scores still should consider chemo.)
All told, about 70 percent of women with this particular cancer — meaning more than 85,000 women a year in the United States — can safely forgo chemotherapy, the experts concluded.
The findings could drastically change treatment for thousands of women. But how soon will care change, and how will patients, doctors and insurers adapt?
Liz Szabo, Senior correspondent, Kaiser Health News; @LizSzabo
Dr. Paula Pohlmann, Breast cancer specialist and oncologist, Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown University
Dr. Jeffrey Abrams, Associate director, cancer therapy evaluation program, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health; medical oncologist
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