Study Spares Breast Cancer Patients from Unnecessary Chemotherapy


The fight with cancer has deep and serious repercussions not only on the patient but also for their family. A new study brings hope to breast cancer patients that they might be spared the thought of dealing with chemotherapy.

The usual course of action when a patient is diagnosed with cancer involves chemotherapy, surgery and radiation. Each of these procedures comes with some risks and discomfort.

While preoperative chemotherapy has the benefit of reducing the tumor in size, making patients that might not otherwise be suitable candidates become eligible for surgery, it also has some heavy side effects, including: weakness, nausea, dizziness, pains.

The Trial Assigning Individualized Options for Treatment, or TAILORx, was an international effort, gathering data from patients from U.S., Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Peru. There were more than 10.000 cases selected and participants were administered a 21-gene expression test. Three study groups were formed, based on likelihood of recurrence. The ones presenting a lower risk followed hormonal therapy and no chemotherapy, the high risk group had chemotherapy and hormonal therapy, while the middle group cases were randomly assigned one of the two combinations.

Results of this impressive undertaking revealed that there was very little difference between the first two groups. After five years, the survival rate of the ones that only had hormone therapy was 98% and at nine years later the rate was 93.9%, compared to group two’s 98.1% after five years and 93.8% at nine years.

Research began almost 20 years ago, when the original study brought into question the effectiveness of chemo in the outcome of breast cancer patients.

This is only one example of what is hoping to become personalized treatment when it comes to cancer.