"Oncologists have been getting much smarter about dialing back treatment so that it doesn't do more harm than good", said Steven Katz, a University of MI researcher who examines medical decision-making.
According to a new study published Sunday, about 70 percent of women diagnosed with one of the most common kinds of breast cancer can safely forgo chemo and opt for a safer treatment instead.
He said: This is a remarkable and extremely promising result, but we need to see this effect repeated in other patients before giving hope of a new immunotherapy for incurable metastatic breast cancer.
After tumor removal, genetic testing is commonly used to predict which type of chemotherapy would give the most benefit. "Your body is trying to fight that cancer anyway, let alone having to put all of this other stuff in your system that isn't really necessary, I just feel so blessed that I got the right doctors, and they were just on top of everything", Tuttle said.
The test is performed on tumor samples post surgery, to determine if chemo would benefit a patient.
Mall said while she, like many cancer survivors, will never completely be able to erase fear of recurrence, she is thrilled that thousands of women in her situation will be spared the anguish she experienced.
The trial results showed that for women in the intermediate recurrence score group, endocrine therapy was no less effective than hormone therapy plus chemotherapy at prolonging disease-free survival.
The research, involving a genetic test is already available on the NHS and has revealed less than a third of women with the most common form of the disease benefit from the treatment.
The study is limited in some ways.
After nine years, 94 percent of both groups were still alive, and about 84 percent were alive without signs of cancer, so adding chemo made no difference. The study observed a potential chemotherapy benefit in younger women (≤50 years) with an RS of 16-25, while RS 0 to 15 had good prognosis with endocrine therapy.
Patients were randomly assigned to receive hormone therapy or chemotherapy, followed by hormone therapy.
Her cancer did not respond to any treatments including chemotherapy and hormone therapy, until this one time treatment with more personalized immunotherapy.
Prior to the study, Doctors knew that women in early stages of estrogen positive breast cancer with low risk scores did not need chemotherapy, but there was a gray area for women over 50. Women at high risk, or scores of 26 or higher, were advised to have chemo.
Those who score 26 or higher on the scale do benefit and now receive chemotherapy.
"I think it's been well spent", Singer said of the stamp proceeds.
Oncotype DX is becoming more standard.
After enrolling for new trial in 2015, doctors in the United States adopted an experimental approach combining two different forms of immunotherapy after conventional hormone treatments and chemotherapy failed. In fact several studies have shown that immunotherapy works well in some patients and tend to fail in many patients. Crystal L. Mackall, founding director of Stanford University's Center for Cancer Cell Therapy, who was not involved in the treatment.
"Chemotherapy is no Shangri-La", Brawley said.