11/21/18

Study findings will give women more breast cancer information

New findings from the groundbreaking Trial Assigning Individualized Options for Treatment (TAILORx) show no benefit from chemotherapy for 70 percent of women with the most common type of breast cancer. The new data released will help inform treatment decisions for many women with early-stage breast cancer.

“The new results from give us data to inform personalized treatment recommendations for women,” said Kendrith Rowland, MD, oncologist, Carle Cancer Center. “But more importantly, we can spare women unnecessary treatment if the test indicates that chemotherapy is not likely to provide benefit.”

Dr. Rowland added these results spur questions, so patients should discuss all treatment options and risks with their provider.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) supported the trial and the ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group designed and led it. The trial enrolled 10,273 women with this type of breast cancer at 1,182 sites. Twenty-three women participated at Carle.

“When patients come to us, they are scared and want every resource possible to fight for their lives,” said Betsy Barnick, research coordinator, Mills Breast Cancer Institute. “Research findings can support them by showing hard data that proves safe, positive outcomes with the least amount of harmful treatments and unpleasant side effects.”

A follow-up study for women with early-stage breast cancer is taking this a step further to personalize the need for radiation therapy to nearby lymph nodes. Women recently diagnosed who haven’t yet started treatment may be eligible. If you are interested in taking part in a clinical trial, you may contact your physician or Carle Research at (844) 37-RESEARCH. Participants must meet eligibility requirements and give written consent. 

“Right now, if a woman gets a lumpectomy and they have one to three lymph nodes positive for cancer, they get radiation to those nodes as well as the breast,” Dr. Rowland said. “With this new study, half of those with a favorable tumor DNA profile will get radiation therapy to both the nodes and breast, while the other half will be treated with radiation to the breast only.”

Researchers will learn from the DNA profile of an individual’s cancer who benefits from radiation and who doesn’t. Avoiding radiation to the nodes can greatly reduce side effects including the risk of lymphedema  causing arm mobility and limitations.

“With many new approaches, treatment options and developments having research done in our community is valuable,” Dr. Rowland said. “Brave individuals step up to help us learn more and advance care for others.”

Participation in clinical studies helps advance cancer treatment and medical knowledge for both doctors and patients.

Dr. Rowland said a key part of his role is helping women navigate these findings and support them in making more informed decisions about the best course of treatment.