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05 June 2018, 07:43 | Randall Craig
‘Groundbreaking’ New Cancer Treatment Beats ‘Tennis Ball-Sized Tumors,’ Exciting Doctors
After the treatment, all trace of Perkins' cancer disappeared and has not returned more than 22 months later, according to a report in the journal Nature Medicine.
The current study focused on those whose scores were in the middle range, from 11 to 25. Until now, existing immunotherapy drugs have shown little or no effectiveness against some of the most common cancers, including malignancies of the breast, prostate and colon. "Therefore they should get the chemotherapy along with hormonal treatment".
The technique has previously been used to treat blood cancers and melanoma, but "it is the first time the treatment has been successful for late-stage breast cancer".
Women with cancer are given scores that come from genetic tests that analyze the tumors and look for the presence of 21 genes that have been associated with a high likelihood of recurrence.
The study enrolled 10,273 women, of whom 9719 with follow-up data were included in the main analysis set; 6711 women (69%) had an intermediate recurrence score of 11-25, while 1619 (17%) had a low recurrence sore of 10 or less and 1389 (14%) had a recurrence score of 26 or higher.
Those who score 26 or higher on the scale do benefit and now receive chemotherapy. However the benefits were unclear for those who fall between which is the vast majority.
A woman appears to have been cured of advanced drug-resistant breast cancer after doctors harnessed her own immune system to fight the disease. Rates for freedom from disease recurrence at a distant site were also similar, at 94.5% and 95% for the endocrine therapy and chemoendocrine therapy groups, respectively, as were rates for freedom from disease at a distant or local-regional site (92.2% and 92.9%, respectively) and for overall survival (93.9% vs 93.8%.). "As an oncologist, on Monday in the clinic, I will offer less chemotherapy that will not be of benefit to patients and that is very reassuring to know that when I am offering patients chemotherapy, they are likely to benefit from it".
However, among younger women with scores 16 to 25, outcomes were slightly better in the chemotherapy group, so in those cases doctors may urge patients to consider a chemo regimen.
Of the more than 250,000 women in the US expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer, the new findings could benefit more than 63,000 with non-invasive, or early stage, disease.
"Side effects, such as hair loss, severe pain and infertility, can be utterly devastating and linger long after they walk out the hospital doors".
A group of metastatic breast cancer experts has urged policymakers to empower patients with greater choice and participation in their treatment and care, to improve the quality of life of patients, their carers and families. The treatment can cause unpleasant side effects, some of which can put a woman's life at risk. Mrs Perkins said she left her job and "was planning on dying".
"Because this is a huge study". Knowing the results the new study, she is reassured, "I did the right thing". Crystal L. Mackall, founding director of Stanford University's Center for Cancer Cell Therapy, who was not involved in the treatment.
"With the recent consultation on tumour profiling tests having already closed, it is crucial that Nice has the opportunity to consider these results as soon as possible", Baroness Morgan said.
This form of immunotherapy has frustratingly been inconsistent in early clinical trials, working well with some patients on certain cancers but proving less effective on others. "They are going to change treatment - and remove uncertainty for women making decisions".
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