Most women with early-stage breast cancer don’t need chemotherapy

Two people looking at the results of a brest MRI

Chemotherapy is one of the cornerstones of modern day cancer treatment. But in some cases, it may not be essential to treatment success.

New research funded in part by the National Cancer Institute has shown that chemotherapy does not increase the likelihood of favorable outcomes after surgery when added to regular hormone therapy for a large number of women who have ER+, lymph node negative breast cancer.

The Trial Assigning Individualized Options for Treatment (Rx), or TAILORx, compared whether hormone therapy alone is less successful than hormone therapy plus chemotherapy in certain breast cancer patients.

The study evaluated patients with HR-positive, HER2-negative, axillary lymph node­–negative breast cancer.

“Until now, we’ve been able to recommend treatment for women with these cancers at high and low risk of recurrence, but women at intermediate risk have been uncertain about the appropriate strategy to take,” says Jeffrey Abrams, M.D., associate director of the Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program at NIH’s National Cancer Institute. “This will go a long way to support oncologists and patients in decisions about the best course of treatment.”

The clinical trial is one of the first large-scale studies aiming to personalize cancer treatment. It launched in 2006 and has since re-enrolled more than 10,000 patients with this type of breast cancer.

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