Behind The Latest Breast Cancer Research | On Point

Groundbreaking Treatment Cures Woman's Advanced Breast Cancer in World First

"The impact is tremendous", said the study leader, Dr. Joseph Sparano of Montefiore Medical Center in NY. Most only need hormonal treatment following surgery, according to a study released June 3. It was funded by the National Cancer Institute, some foundations and proceeds from the USA breast cancer postage stamp.

Recently, the results of the highly anticipated TAILORx study were announced at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

However, among younger women with scores 16 to 25, outcomes were slightly better in the chemotherapy group, so in those cases doctors may urge patients to consider a chemo regimen.

It shows a woman with an arm raised, in a position meant to portray breast self-examination.

The recent findings are on remaining 67% of women, who have intermediate risk, and every one of them had the hormone therapy and surgery and half of them also had the chemo.

84 percent were alive without signs of cancer, so adding chemo made no difference.

In TAILORx, tumors taken from participants were subject to a gene expression test. Test results were used to determine a risk score for cancer recurrence on a scale of 0 to 100.

Before the new study results, Dr. Harsha Vardhana, an oncologist at Erlanger Oncology and Hematology, said he would prepare patients for the possibility that the genetic test might not provide a clear answer. Such patients have been in "the gray zone, and we haven't known what to tell them", Kurian said.

Author Dr Marloes Derks said: "The fact breast cancer mortality in England is higher than in other countries in this study even for those women whose cancer is in its earliest stage suggests there is something more at play than just a failure to diagnose it early".

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Study results will provide women more accurate information when weighing treatment options, and help ensure that women receive the optimal level of care instead of over-treatment. While trying treatment after treatment, she became a breast cancer advocate and went to California for training by Project Lead, a program run by the National Breast Cancer Coalition. Since 2006, the trial has enrolled more than 10,000 women in the United States and five other countries diagnosed with early breast cancer and followed their progress through post-surgery treatment.

Targeted therapies uses information about a person's gene and protein to prevent, diagnose, and treat disease, which makes them extremely applicable in the making of precision medicine. "I think there's going to be some anxiety for those who have had experience". While immune therapy has benefited patients with advanced melanoma, lung and some other malignancies with large numbers of mutations, it generally has not been effective against cancers that start in the linings of organs - called epithelial cancers - and have fewer mutations.

The approach relies on mutations, not cancer type, he said.

Staff writer Elizabeth Fite contributed to this story.

"I was a little relieved. Basically, they're getting upfront, personalized medicine, pretty much right away", says Dr. Groteluschen. The treatments "weren't pleasant", she concedes. She had several treatments that weren't successful, then found the NCI trial online.

After taking a small piece of tissue from her tumor, Perkins's doctors studied which mutations appeared in her. "I'm a firm believer in medical research".

The woman has been injected with 90 billion white cells during the experimental treatment.

"It's one of the first studies we've ever had".


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