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Half of breast cancer patients get chemo

Oct. 12, 2012 at 12:05 AM   |   Comments

SEATTLE, Oct. 12 (UPI) -- Fifty percent of women may not need chemotherapy to treat breast cancer because of customized treatment, U.S. cancer specialists say.

Dr. Julie Gralow, director of breast medical oncology at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, an academic-based treatment center, said 10 years ago, oncologists recommended chemotherapy for all women with early-stage breast cancer.

However, genomic testing allows physicians to determine drug receptivity or drug resistance to treatment so today half of women with breast cancer forego traditional chemotherapy for a less toxic targeted drug therapy, Gralow said.

"Because chemotherapy is the most toxic of all the therapies, the fact that we can offer an effective alternative, hormonal therapy, is a very good thing for patients," Gralow said in a statement.

Radiation oncologists at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance are also working on new methods for delivering less radiation to certain breast cancer patients.

Dr. Janice Kim, a breast radiation oncologist, plans to lead a new treatment protocol involving early-stage breast cancer. Standard treatment for breast cancer recurrence is a mastectomy without radiation, because too much radiation can lead to permanent damage of normal tissues in the breast, Kim said.

Instead, under the new approach, women will undergo a second lumpectomy followed by the technique "accelerated partial breast irradiation." Kim said her approach was to hit the "tumor bed" with high doses of radiation twice a day for only five days.

If it works, the result would be less surgery and radiation, Kim said.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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