Gene test shows more breast cancer patients can skip chemo

Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in women worldwide. (File photo: Reuters)
Updated 03 June 2018
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Gene test shows more breast cancer patients can skip chemo

  • As many as 65,000 women in the United States alone could be impacted by the study

TAMPA, USA: The majority of women with a common form of breast cancer may be able to skip chemotherapy after surgery, based on their score on a genetic test, researchers said Sunday.
As many as 65,000 women in the United States alone could be impacted by the study, described as the largest breast cancer trial to date, released at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting in Chicago.
Until now, women have faced a great deal of uncertainty about whether to add chemo to hormone therapy after a diagnosis with hormone-receptor positive, HER-2 negative breast cancer when found at an early stage before it has spread to the lymph nodes.
“With results of this ground-breaking study, we now can safely avoid chemotherapy in about 70 percent of patients who are diagnosed with the most common form of breast cancer,” said co-author Kathy Albain, an oncologist at Loyola Medicine.
“For countless women and their doctors, the days of uncertainty are over.”
A 21-gene test called Oncotype Dx that has been around since 2004 has helped guide some decisions, post-surgery.
A high recurrence score, above 25, means chemo is advised to ward off a recurrence while a low score, below 10, means it is not.
The current study involved more than 10,000 women and focused on those whose scores were in the middle range, from 11 to 25.
Patients, aged 18 to 75, were randomly assigned to receive chemotherapy followed by hormonal therapy or hormone therapy alone.
Then, researchers studied the outcomes, including whether or not cancer recurred, and overall survival.
“For the entire study population with gene test scores between 11 and 25 — and especially among women aged 50 to 75 — there was no significant difference between the chemotherapy and no chemotherapy groups,” said the findings, published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The results show that all women over 50 with a recurrence score of 0 to 25 can be spared chemotherapy and its toxic side effects.
For women under 50 with a score of 0 to 15, chemo could be skipped.
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.
The results “should have a huge impact on doctors and patients,” Albain said.
“We are de-escalating toxic therapy.”
According to first author Joseph Sparano of Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, New York, “any woman with early stage breast cancer 75 or younger should have the test and discuss the results” with her doctor.
Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in women worldwide, causing some 1.7 million new cases annually and over half a million deaths.
The study’s primary funding came from the US National Institutes of Health.


2018 Holiday Gift Guide: What to get for the ones you love this festive season

2018 Holiday Gift Guide
Updated 12 December 2018
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2018 Holiday Gift Guide: What to get for the ones you love this festive season

DUBAI: Here are some gift ideas for this holiday season.

Long-distance love
Lovebox Spinning Heart Messenger ($100)
A 21st-century version of the classic love letter — perfect to let distant loved ones know you’re thinking of them. When you send a new message through the app, the heart on the recipient’s box revolves and your message is displayed on the screen inside.

Point-and-click. And print
HP Sprocket 2-in-1 Camera Printer ($160)
This smartphone-sized instant camera also lets you print your Instagram pics while you’re on the move. So now you can let disinterested strangers in the real world, too, know just how perfect the presentation of your smashed avocado toast was this morning.

For the watch lover
A Lange & Söhne Triple Split ($160,000)
This 100-piece limited-edition white-gold watch is one of the most complex ever created, with 567 components. The maker claims its “the first mechanical split-seconds chronograph in the world that allows multi-hour comparative time measurements,” and we’re not going to argue.

For the absent-minded
Tile Mate ($25)
Put Tile Mate on your key ring and save yourself from minor meltdowns. Can’t find your keys? Simply fire up the app and listen for the signature tune, or check the on-screen map. What if you lose your phone? Press the button and your phone will ring — even if it’s on silent. Lost your keys and your phone? Oh…

Take your tablet old-school
iPad TV stand ($30)
This cardboard faux-TV set from the Seventies is a great little placeholder for your iPad (or other tablet). For a really authentic nostalgia trip, set all your videos to 144p.

Family fun
Don’t Step In It board game ($20)
Put on a blindfold, spin the spinner, and take that many steps across the mat. And hope you don’t tread in the strategically placed poop. (The poop should be fake — we can’t stress that enough.) The weirdest thing about this weird game is that no one thought of it sooner. Seeing someone else tread in poop is always funny.

For the coffee freak
Espro Ultralight Press ($40)
This 16-oz French press (and vacuum-insulated “hydration bottle”) is perfect for the discriminating traveler for whom a sachet of Nescafe in their hotel room just won’t do.


For the coffee geek
R2-D2 Coffee Press ($25)
Everyone’s favorite service droid (yes, BB-8, *everyone’s*) now performing everyone’s favorite service — preparing coffee.

For the audiophile
Shinola Runwell Turntable ($2,500)
The ongoing vinyl revival means any music-loving hipster worthy of their goatee is once again buying LPs. This sleek belt-driven turntable has a built-in phono preamp.

The year’s best-selling book
‘Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House’ ($25)
Michael Wolff’s controversial exposé of what (he says) happened behind the scenes in the first nine month’s of Donald Trump’s presidency tops the bestseller list for 2018. Wolff’s ‘access-all-areas’ pass to the West Wing makes for fascinating reading, regardless of your political affiliations.

The year’s best-selling perfume
Coco Mademoiselle by Chanel ($100)
Apparently, it’s 2018’s most-popular smell-in-a-bottle, so you can’t really go wrong with this citrus-y “sexy, fresh Oriental fragrance.”

For the movie buff
100 Movies Scratch Off poster ($15)
You know those films people keep telling you that you must see? Here’s 100 of them on a single poster that you can scratch as you go to reveal the ones you’ve actually watched. Or the ones you feel like you have to pretend you’ve watched.

The shopaholic’s über-hamper
The Covent Garden Shopping Edit ($13,180)
This is only good if you’re planning a visit to London sometime soon, but for many GCC-dwellers, that’s a regular trip. This hamper features must-have gifts from Covent Garden’s most exclusive brands, including Danse Lenté, Penhaligon’s, Mulberry, The Shop at Bluebird, and more. It also includes a $6,400 voucher to spend on a watch at Bucherer.

For the escapist
Oculus Go Standalone VR Headset ($210)
Running away to another world is probably going to be high on everyone’s wish list for 2019. A trip to Mars is potentially lethal (not to mention Elon Musk could be your travel companion), so we recommend this all-in-one virtual-reality set for now.

Get some sleep
LectroFan White Noise Machine ($50)
Help mask those things that go bump (or screech, or whatever that adorable sound of young fellas revving their engines in the street outside is called) in the night with this ambient noise generator, complete with timer and volume control.

For the person who has everything
A castle in Italy ($18.25 million)
Nothing says ‘I love you’ like an 11th-century Florentine castle. Or any castle, really. This one comes with two swimming pools, two farmhouses, an olive grove, vineyard, and 37 hectares of woodland. And serious bragging rights.