Breakthrough breast cancer study means fewer women needing chemotherapy


A new landmark medical study shows tens of thousands of women who are diagnosed with the early stages of breast cancer every year may not need chemotherapy as a form of treatment.

The decade-long study published in The New England Journal of Medicine involved a genetic test called an Oncotype DX. Researchers used it to estimate the risk that a cancer will come back based on 21 genes linked with breast cancer recurrence. Researchers say, the results allowed them to separate women who would benefit from chemotherapy due to a higher risk of recurrent breast cancer, and those who tested at a lower risk and do not need chemo for treatment.

The study began in 2006 and included more than 10,000 women.18 of those women were patients from Sparrow Hospital and doctors there say this is a major discovery because roughly 250,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year in America, but based of this study, up to 70,000 of those women will not need to go through any sort of chemotherapy treatment. 

“You will see it nationwide and you will see it here”, says Sparrow Hospital Oncologist Dr. Gordan Srkalovic. “It’ll be great news for a lot of patients because they will get similar outcomes with less toxic treatment.”

Proceeds from the U.S. Postal Service’s breast cancer stamp helped fund this important study. The National Cancer Institute provided $36 million, and $4.5 million of it came from the money collected from the stamp.

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