As a charity, we’re committed to preventing breast cancer to protect future generations from the disease. However, we know that this goal is very much work in progress, so in the meantime, our focus is also on early detection.
Our researchers work tirelessly to develop new ways of predicting risk and catching the cancer early to avoid invasive treatment where possible.
Interestingly, research last week revealed a new genetic test that analyses the danger of a tumour, meaning those with early stage breast cancer could be spared chemotherapy. The findings, which have the potential to affect around 3,000 women in the UK every year, mean that hormone therapy and surgery will now be considered sufficient forms of treatment.
The test is already available on the NHS and women who get a low score are told they don’t need chemo. However, those who receive an intermediate result are often unclear of their next steps. Interestingly, the data in the new study – presented at global cancer conference ASCO – shows that these women actually have the same survival rates with or without chemo.
The nine-year-survival-rate was 93.9% without chemotherapy and 93.8% with chemotherapy.
The research, led by the Albert Einstein Cancer Center in New York, is incredibly exciting because as well as saving women from experiencing the difficulties of chemo, it would also save the NHS much-needed resource and funds.
Here at Prevent Breast Cancer, we wholeheartedly back this study and will continue with our own research into early detection and screening in order to create a future that is free from breast cancer.
Here’s what our experts have to say on the research:
Dr Sacha Howell, who is part of Prevent Breast Cancer’s scientific advisory board, said: “The long-awaited results of the TAILORx study are tremendously important for women with oestrogen receptor positive breast cancer that hasn’t spread to lymph nodes in the armpit. The Oncotype DX test, an analysis of breast cancer gene expression, has been available in England following NICE approval in 2013. However, it was not clear whether women with an intermediate score (11-25) should be offered chemotherapy.
“The TAILORx results show that chemotherapy does not prevent cancer recurrence or increase the chances of long term survival in this group.
“Routine use of the test should result in thousands of women being spared the uncertainty of whether or not they should receive chemotherapy and, in those who would previously have been treated, the severe toxicities to the women and cost to the NHS will be averted.”
Lester Barr, chairman of Prevent Breast Cancer, said: “One of the benefits of early diagnosis and screening for breast cancer is that it can be treated without needing chemotherapy. This latest study shows that the majority of women diagnosed over 50 with a hormone positive breast cancer, diagnosed early before it has spread to lymph nodes, do not need it.
“We have other less invasive treatments that are just as effective. We have been using the Oncotype test in our NHS clinics since 2013. Already it has saved thousands of women from undergoing chemotherapy and now it looks like it will help thousands more.”
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