Results of an Israeli study published in the prestigious international journal Nature Breast Cancer indicate that chemotherapy can be avoided in women with breast cancer discovered early on.
According to a report in Yediot Aharonot, researchers for a decade followed 1,365 women in Israel who had the two most common types of the cancer (ER positive and HER2 negative). In all of them, the cancer was discovered early on.
As part of the study, the women underwent an oncotype test during which they were each rated on a scale from 0 to 100 as to the risk level of cancer recurrence. Every patient with a rating of 25 and under was advised to forgo chemotherapy. In nearly 100 percent of the women, the disease did not recur, even though they did not receive chemotherapy.
The newspaper explained that a breast oncotype is a unique molecular test done on tumor tissue taken from the patient during the biopsy or at the time of the initial surgery. The test measures the biological profile of the tumor by measuring the expression of 21 different genes in the tumor cells.
The results of the study indicate that among 97.4% of women who forwent chemotherapy following the test, the disease did not recur. The mortality rate among the group of patients was only 0.7%.
This is big news since chemotherapy often has serious health consequences over the course of years. One of the high risks it poses is serious harm to the immune system, which can be life-threatening.
The study was carried out by senior oncologists, including Dr. Shulamit Rizel of Assuta Hospital, Dr. Noa Ben Baruch of Kaplan Hospital and Dr. Lior Shoshan-Gutman, CEO of "Oncotest".
Professor Solomon Stettmer, director of the research unit at Beilinson's Oncology Institute and among the researchers, said in Yediot Aharonot that "the research proves beyond any doubt that chemotherapy can be withheld from most women who have breast cancer detected early on."