What the breast cancer chemo study means for thousands of women

- Dr. Marleen Meyers, a medical oncologist at NYU Langone's Perlmutter Cancer Center, told four patients on Monday they will be able to forgo chemotherapy without hurting their chances of beating breast cancer, thanks to the results of a new study funded by the National Cancer Institute.

"In this country, there are about 260,000 new cases of breast cancer a year," Dr. Meyers said. "So this is potentially 70,000 women who would otherwise have gotten chemotherapy. Now chemotherapy can be avoided."

The study found women with the most common form of early-stage breast cancer were getting chemo when they didn't need to be and can be better treated in other ways.

Dr. Meyers said that a big part of the fear of getting cancer is the fear of chemotherapy.

"If we can tell our patients that they can get hormone therapy, which is simply pills that you take every day, it makes them feel much more normal," she said, "and less frightened about the whole process."

The findings pertain to specific patients, as Dr. Cynara Coomer, the chief of breast surgery at Staten Island University Hospital, explained on Good Day New York: Women with Stage 1 or Stage 2B breast cancer, estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer (HR-positive), HER2-negative breast cancer, and lymph-node-negative breast cancer.

The news will be life-changing for thousands of women who will now be able to avoid drugs with potentially harmful side effects.

"As oncologists, even though we do give chemotherapy, we are always delighted to not give chemotherapy," Dr. Meyers said.

Oncologists told me this will be a practice game hanger and that it is another reminder that sometimes with chemotherapy, less is more.

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