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Breast cancer treatment game changer?

By Julie Cullen, Managing Editor, American Nurse Today

A friend of mine has a daughter who’s expecting her second child and was just diagnosed with breast cancer. She’s currently undergoing low-dose chemotherapy and will have a mastectomy. After her child his born, she’ll start a full course of chemo. Her cancer is advanced, so she’s not able to share in the good news that was recently reported about women with early stage breast cancer being able to forego chemotherapy.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine  found that patients who fall in the intermediate risk zone of the OncoType DX genomic test for breast cancer do as well with just hormone therapy as they do with chemotherapy combined with hormone therapy after surgery. The randomized study (TAILORx) involved thousands of patients and found that those with test scores between 11 and 25 who received hormone therapy alone had a similar rate of cancer-free survival after 9 years as those who had the chemo/hormone combination. This can be great news to share with patients, but the data show that some women 50 years and younger may still benefit from chemo. The cost of the test is about $4,600 and is reimbursed by most insurance.

Breast cancer experts hope that further research can be applied to patients whose cancer has already spread to the lymph nodes, which might mean spreading similar good news to higher-risk patients.

Julie Cullen, managing editor of American Nurse Today and a curator of online content for the American Nurse Today website, is most definitely not a nurse, but she admires what all of you do everyday. In her Off the Charts blog she shares some of her experiences as a patient and family member of patients, thoughts and ideas that occur to her during her work editing nursing content, and information she thinks you might find interesting. Julie welcomes your feedback. You can submit a comment on the website or email her at jcullen@healthcommedia.com.

 

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