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Good news for women with breast cancer: Many don’t need chemo

A breast cancer patient receives a chemotherapy drip. Photo: Chris Hondros/Getty Images

"Many women with early-stage breast cancer who would receive chemotherapy under current standards do not actually need it, according to a major international study that is expected to quickly change medical treatment," N.Y. Times health and medicine reporter Denise Grady reports.

One big finding: "The study found that gene tests on tumor samples were able to identify women who could safely skip chemotherapy and take only a drug that blocks the hormone estrogen or stops the body from making it."

Dr. Ingrid A. Mayer of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, an author of the study: "We can spare thousands and thousands of women from getting toxic treatment that really wouldn’t benefit them ... This is very powerful. It really changes the standard of care.”

  • "The hormone-blocking drug tamoxifen and related medicines, called endocrine therapy, have become an essential part of treatment for most women because they lower the risks of recurrence, new breast tumors and death from the disease."
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