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Fewer Breast Cancer Patients to Get Chemo

What is the treatment of choice for all breast cancer patients Chemotherapy Wrong.

Blasting women with toxic chemicals has so far been considered the best way to save their lives.// The bigger the cancer or the more it’s spread, more the poison pumped into the veins of women to kill it. But this approach has undergone a sea change in 2004.

According to guidelines recently adopted in Europe unveiled this weekend at a conference in Texas, very few women with breast cancer get chemotherapy in future. The new approach calls for choosing a treatment based on each woman's particular type of tumor.

So far all decisions were being made on the size of the tumor and the involvement of the lymph nodes. The treatment differed according to the amount of cancer one had. Under the new rules, hormone status — whether a tumor's growth depends on estrogen or progesterone — becomes the single most important factor in picking treatment. The approach here would be more a hormone blocker rather than chemotherapy.

Women have reason to dread chemotherapy. Chemo is a sledgehammer that comes down heavily on all rapidly dividing cells—whether they are out-of-control cancerous cells or healthy ones that naturally grow quickly, like those lining the mouth and stomach. That is why chemotherapy causes hair loss, nausea and mouth sores.

But the worst part is that chemotherapy helps only about 15 percent of breast cancer patients after the usual surgery to remove their tumors. Roughly 25 percent of them get worse despite receiving chemotherapy. More shocking, as many as 60 percent of them would have been fine with hormones alone.

'It is not to say that chemotherapy is no value. It is just to say that the value is smaller in women with hormone-driven disease,' said Dr. Robert Carlson, a Stanford University physician who led the U.S. guideline-writing group. The question now is to determine whether the benefit is so small that onco
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