Published: Thu, June 07, 2018
Health Care | By Belinda Paul

Breast cancer treated successfully with immune therapy

Breast cancer treated successfully with immune therapy

The study found that all women over 50 with this type of breast cancer could skip chemotherapy, a group that represented 85 per cent of the study's population.

A leading oncologist said the findings will lead to a "fundamental change" in how the disease is treated. For these women, the use of both hormones and chemotherapy is recommended.

Results from this study suggest many women with this specific type of tumour do not receive any additional benefit from having chemotherapy in combination with endocrine therapy, compared to endocrine therapy alone.

Bottom line: Figueredo said the study found approximately 70 percent of women with that type of cancer do not need chemo therapy.

A sample of the tumour is tested after surgery for 21 genetic markers, which indicate if it could grow and spread.

"Chemotherapy is an absolute cornerstone of breast cancer treatment, but with the side-effects being nearly unbearable for some we must ensure it is only given to those that will benefit from it".

Those with recurrence scores of 16 and above got a "substantial" benefit from chemotherapy and should consider it, said lead author Joseph Sparano, associate director for clinical research at the Albert Einstein Cancer Center and Montefiore Medical Center.

Now, the "vast majority of women who have this test performed on their tumor can be told they don't need chemotherapy, and that can be said with tremendous confidence and reassurance", Burstein stated.

British experts said the study was "exciting" even though it involved just one patient.

Applying radiation therapy to lymph nodes behind the breast bone and above the collar bone can improve outcomes for earlier-stage breast cancer patients, with limited side effects, Phase 3 long-term data show. Oncotype DX has spurred the trend, and is likely to accelerate it. "Most women in this situation don't need treatment beyond surgery and hormone therapy", he said, and "the rest of them are receiving chemotherapy unnecessarily".

Other less common but more serious side effects of chemotherapy include bone loss and osteoporosis, heart and vision problems.

However, there is still uncertainty about the benefit of chemotherapy for most patients who have a midrange score, they specified.

In clinical practice, he said, "application of this test would be expected to spare chemotherapy in about 70% of women and select chemotherapy in about 30%".

That could affect up to 70,000 women a year in the U.S. and thousands more around the world, the study said.

An almost-unprecedented cure for a terminal breast cancer patient using a form of cellular immunotherapy shows that while immuno-oncology is still in its infancy, the potential is enormous. The most common chemotherapeutic regimens used to treat women in the dual, chemoendocrine therapy group were either a docetaxel-cyclophosphamide regimen or anthracycline-containing regimens.

Judy Perkins told the BBC: About a week after (the therapy) I started to feel something, I had a tumour in my chest that I could feel shrinking.

He added that it was important that the federal government funded the study because the pharmaceutical industry has little interest in sponsoring trials that result in a reduction of treatment.

About 17 percent of the women tested had high-risk scores and were advised to have chemotherapy.

The treatment involves a highly personalized approach and a patient's tumor is genetically analyzed to "identify the rare changes that might make the cancer visible to the immune system".

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