Many breast cancer patients can safely skip chemotherapy

Many Breast Cancer Patients May Not Need Chemotherapy

Results were discussed Sunday at an American Society of Clinical Oncology conference in Chicago and published by the New England Journal of Medicine.

The benefits were seen in some breast and bowel cancer patients, with the supplement thought to reduce inflammation.

Rachel Rawson, from the charity Breast Cancer Care, said: "Every day, women with certain types of breast cancer face the bad dilemma of whether or not to have the treatment, without hard facts about the benefit for them".

"There are side effects to it, joint aches and hot flashes, but certainly significantly less than chemotherapy", CBS News medical contributor Dr. David Agus, a cancer specialist, said on "CBS This Morning" Monday.

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"70% of women with the most common form of early stage breast cancer could be treated safely with just surgery and hormone therapy."

246 patients took part in the phase 3 PREOPANC-1 trial and were randomly assigned to receive either surgery immediately or chemoradiotherapy for 10 weeks followed by surgery. Patients who were given a combination of the chemotherapy drug gemcitabine (Gemzar) and radiotherapy before surgery survived an average of 17.1 months.

"Chemotherapy is not without its side effects, but it's still a discussion that a woman has to have with her physician", said Dr. Stephanie Bernik, chief of surgical oncology at Lenox Hill Hospital.

"This is a rapidly evolving area of research in pancreatic cancer, with other combination chemotherapy regimens being tested that may be even more effective both in tumour shrinkage and long-term prognosis". "I want the world of cancer care and cancer to improve drastically before they're adults", she said.

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He added: "Further studies are being planned in the UK through the Cancer Research UK-funded Precision-Panc initiative to work out which preoperative combination regimen would work the best at an individual pancreatic cancer patient level".

Dr. Jennifer Litton at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, agreed, but said, "Risk to one person is not the same thing as risk to another".

Where did these results come from? Since 1998, when the charity stamp was authorized by Congress and first issued by the United States Postal Service, more than $86 million has been raised for breast cancer research. In addition, these early tumors must be sized at five centimeters or less and not invasive to the lymph nodes.

There was no significant change among non-obese patients.

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