Chemotherapy for Early Stages of Breast Cancer: Is It Required?
The American Society for Clinical Oncology conducted their Annual meeting from 1 June to 5 June in Chicago. The conference brings together around 32,000 oncology professionals from all over the world to discuss technology and research advances in the field. Of the many world class reports and researches that were presented during the conference, this blog is focussing on particularly relevant and groundbreaking work on Breast Cancer.
A study called TAILOR X, which is soon to be published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that most women detected with breast cancer at early stages are recommended chemotherapy when they might not need it. Chemotherapy is an extremely toxic treatment that comes with undesirable side effects, hair loss and nausea. While it is unavoidable for some cases of breast cancer, many a times it is prescribed to patients as a precautionary measure although they might not necessarily benefit from it. This research was aimed at women who were detected with breast cancer at early stages, to study if chemotherapy was effective on them. The results showed no significant differences between cases who received chemotherapy along with endocrine therapy and endocrine therapy only.
However, as the researchers themselves have mentioned, it is important to note that some women who are 50 years of age or younger might benefit form chemotherapy even if tests indicate otherwise. The reasons for this are unclear as of now.
Globally, there were 1.7 million new cases of breast cancer and more than half-a-million deaths in the year 2012 alone. Chemotherapy is life saving, but it comes with harsh side effects. A cure to breast cancer, at least in some cases, without chemotherapy is a welcome breakthrough.