Published: Wed, June 06, 2018
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

Automatic texting helps ease stress of chemotherapy in breast cancer patients

Automatic texting helps ease stress of chemotherapy in breast cancer patients

According to the American Cancer Society, one in eight women will develop breast cancer in her life.

Researchers gave 10,273 patients a test called Oncotype DX, which measures the activity of genes involved in cell growth and the response to hormone therapy, to estimate the risk a cancer would recur, multiple outlets reported.

The study, led by the Albert Einstein Cancer Center in NY, is a rare cancer breakthrough as it can save money and instantly change practice. Following this "recalibration" of the genetic test, the researchers estimated that chemotherapy was not justified in 70% of cases of breast cancer.

"She may have lost her life", her husband, Scott Satterfield, said recently, "but I hope someone else will gain from her trial". You have got a great prognosis and chemotherapy won't help.

This study supports sparing thousands of women from the sometimes nasty side effects of chemotherapy, but we must be crystal clear that it applies to a very specific (and significant) subset of women.

"The uncertainty is over", she said.

In addition, a recent study says chemo does not improve survival, that most women can be safely treated with just surgery and hormone blockers. Such individualized therapies promise to be more effective and cause fewer side effects than more traditional ones developed for the average patient.

It's one of a few branded tests that have been developed for this objective and is recommended for use in the United Kingdom by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellent (NICE).

Previous trials involving cancer immunotherapy have found that it "tends to work spectacularly for some patients, but the majority do not benefit", the BBC reports.

Ahmed Elkhanany, MD, a Roswell Park clinical fellow, is lead author and Kazuaki Takabe, MD, PhD, FACS, Alfiero Foundation Endowed Chair in Breast Oncology, is senior author of the study, "Racial disparity in breast cancer immune microenvironment" (abstract 1081), to be presented in a poster session on Saturday, June 2, from 8 11:30 a.m. CDT in McCormick Place, Poster Hall A.

The Oncotype DX test costs $4,600 and is typically reimbursed by insurance, according to Dr. Steven Shak, chief medical officer of Genomic Health, the maker of Oncotype DX. However, most breast cancer occurs in older women.

"The study should have a huge impact on doctors and patients", said Dr Kathy Albain, one of the main co-authors.

After growing billions of these immune cells in the lab, the researchers screened them to find which ones would most effectively find and destroy the woman's cancer cells by recognising their abnormal proteins.

A patient's tumour is genetically analysed to identify the rare changes that might make the cancer visible to the immune system.

The immunotherapy field has seen major breakthroughs in the past year, including the approval of two so-called CAR-T treatments from Gilead and Novartis AG that extract T-cells from a patient's blood and re-engineer them to recognize malignancies. "Basically, it's going to spare a lot of unnecessary chemotherapy in patients with breast cancer".

These results provide assurance that getting gene tested is a valuable first step for patients with this type of breast cancer. This characterizes about half of all new breast cancer patients. While trying treatment after treatment, she became a breast cancer advocate and went to California for training by Project Lead, a program run by the National Breast Cancer Coalition.

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