Chemo not needed in 70% of early stage breast cancer

Chemo not needed in 70% of early stage breast cancer

Chemotherapy not needed in 70% of early stage breast cancer cases

Chemotherapy has little or no benefit for at least 70 per cent of women who have oestrogen positive (ER+ve) breast cancer, according to the largest ever research study on the subject, the Trial Assigning Individualised Options for Treatment (the TAILORx study).

This study(1) involved 10,273 patients across 21 gene assay types. It was described by lead author Dr. Joseph A Sparano (Professor, Tisch Cancer Institute, Mount Sinai) as ‘The largest adjuvant breast cancer trial ever performed.’ Results were presented at the 2018 American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting (ASCO) and published in the New England Journal of Medicine simultaneously.

American breast cancer experts agree that this study is ‘practice changing’  since adjuvant chemotherapy – where, for example,  women in the UK are routinely given drugs such as 5-Fluorourocil, Epirubicin, Cyclophosphamide, Docetaxel and Paclitaxel, as EC-T, FEC-T or FEC-P– is  ‘just not necessary’ for the great majority of women.

The specific research results showed that women whose early stage breast cancer was ER+ve but HER2-ve, and who had no lymph node involvement, simply did not need the adjuvant chemotherapy. They could go straight on the endocrine therapies. The women in question also scored median or less on an Oncotype DX gene-expression assay. 

Chris Woollams, former Oxford University Biochemist and a founder of CANCERactive said, “These results really are wonderful news for the majority of breast cancer patients – and for the NHS coffers! Typically, about half of all breast cancers are ER+ve, HER-ve and with no spread to lymph nodes on diagnosis.  Approximately one in three women have a recurrence within ten years. These results showed that the benefit of chemotherapy in preventing this was 3-5 per cent at best, when compared with women who just went straight to an endocrine therapy.

All too often we see women having FEC-T, FEC-P or EC-T for six to eight rounds, subsequently struggling with compromised immune systems, fatigue, depression, damaged microbiomes and low serum vitamin D levels. These hamper the woman’s ability to get herself fit and well.

And the harsh reality is that some of these chemotherapy drugs are really old-fashioned, kill-anything-that-is-rapidly-dividing drugs. 5FU got its approval in 1956. Cytoxic chemotherapy is dangerous to many women; more than 3 to 5 per cent have dreadful and even dangerous side-effectsOnly recently we had Dr. Dipak Panigraphy from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre showing that chemotherapy generated debris from dead and dying tumour cells and these toxins could stimulate tumour growth. Women with early stage breast cancer don’t need these extra worries. This research, if it is heeded by the UK Medical Profession, is wonderful news.

I would counsel that women would get much, much more benefit from some sunshine and a good diet and exercise programme than ineffective adjuvant chemotherapy’.

Go to: CANCERactive guidelines on Diet and Exercise for cancer patients


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2018 Research
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