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Will You Need Chemotherapy for Your Breast Cancer?

Breast cancer continues to affect many women but treatment has also improved, providing better outcomes. Chemotherapy destroys any remaining cancer cells and usually comes in after surgery, known as adjuvant chemotherapy, to reduce the risk of recurrence. Treatment seems like the most logical approach to any kind of cancer but is it always required? Can some cases do without it and still be okay?

A recent research trial tried to figure out whether it was possible for some breast cancer cases to improve without any intervention. The trial dubbed Trial Assigning Individualized Options for Treatment (TAILORx) involved over 10,200 women with breast cancer in its early stages over more than ten years. The findings were as follows:

  • Women with HER2-negative, hormone receptor-positive, axillary node-negative early-stage breast cancer may not require chemotherapy. This type of breast cancer is the most common meaning many women will be affected.
  •  Results showed that adjuvant hormone therapy, which is given after surgery, on its own was as effective as chemotherapy and hormone therapy together. It is therefore possible for 70 percent of women with this particular cancer to avoid chemotherapy when guided by the Oncotype test.
  • The Oncotype DX is a molecular profiling test used to pick out women with this type of breast cancer and have a low recurrence risk.

Chemotherapy has been used to treat breast cancer over the decades but it poses severe side effects including fatigue, hair loss, and nausea. It could potentially damage healthy cells, cause leukemia and damage the heart in the long run. Chemotherapy still remains an effective treatment for some types of breast cancer. Doctors must look at other factors as well so they can suggest an effective treatment plan tailored to your needs.

As research continues, everyone must keep hope alive because every breakthrough in cancer research leads to better odds for cancer patients.     

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