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Definitive study confirms chemo benefit in postmenopausal breast cancer
Date:12/10/2009

all survival rates as well. "Ten years after the start of their treatment, 68% of women who received chemotherapy followed by tamoxifen were still alive, while only 60% of women in the tamoxifen-only arm lived for at least ten years," says William Barlow, Ph.D., of the SWOG Statistical Center in Seattle, who served as lead statistician on both studies.

Initial results from this trial presented at professional conferences in recent years have already changed the standard of practice to include several months of CAF chemotherapy before tamoxifen in treating postmenopausal women with ER+ breast cancer.

The second study, published in The Lancet Oncology, was conducted to determine if subsets of women in the SWOG trial could be identified who did not benefit from chemotherapy despite being at higher risk due to lymph node involvement. This study retrospectively analyzed tumor specimens from the trial using a genetic test called the 21-gene recurrence score assay (Oncotype DX). The assay measures the expression or activity level of 21 specific genes within a tumor sample, and the score predicts risk of recurrence. Testing was conducted by Genomic Health, Inc, who were blinded to the study results.

The study found that women whose tumors scored low on the genetic test appeared to get little or no benefit from CAF chemotherapy added to tamoxifen, while those with higher scores seemed to derive major benefit from this addition.

The 21-gene recurrence score test is now routinely used on the tumors of many patients whose breast cancer has not spread to their lymph nodes node-negative breast cancer. Doctors use the assay score to help them decide whether a patient is likely to benefit from a course of chemotherapy.

The researchers conclude that this test may similarly predict chemotherapy benefit in patients whose breast cancer has spread to their lymph nodes. These patients account for about one-fifth of newly diagnosed bre
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Contact: Frank DeSanto
fdesanto@umich.edu
734-998-0114
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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