Local oncologists are applauding a comprehensive study that shows as many as 70% of women diagnosed with breast cancer can avoid the expense, discomfort, and side effects of chemotherapy, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
Dr. Steven Kalter, a nationally recognized cancer specialist at San Antonio's START Center, says the decade long study does much to clarify exactly what should be done to prevent breast cancers from returning.
He says the study shows the types of cancer which are most easily countered by Endrocrine therapy, which blocks hormones from creating and feeding cancer cells, are the types of cancer generally suffered by woman who are over fifty.
He says after initial treatment with surgery or radiation, chemo is not necessary to prevent the cancer from recurring.
"Then the further therapy that we give will be in the form of a bill, an anti-estrogen pill, that prevents recurrence and decreases the likelihood of new cancers forming," Dr. Kalter said.
The study indicates that some 85,000 women each year can feel safe knowing they can skip chemotherapy, with its side effects of nausea and hair loss.
But he stresses there are many types of breast cancers, and the types of cancers which are not driven mainly by hormones, have a tendency to be more aggressive, and these are the cancers which more frequently attack women under fifty.
"Some cancers, particularly in younger women, are more aggressive, do not have hormone receptor positivity, and younger women with more aggressive cancers, may well require chemotherapy."
He says the study made it clear that Endrocrine therapy, like tamoxifen, is the most effective way of blocking the growth of cancer in hormonal driven cases.
The bottom line, Dr. Kalter says, is the importance of early detection. He says none of this works if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body by the time it is treated, the higher stage cancers.
"Early detection via mammography to find cancers that are not palpable, which means you can't feel it, almost always describes cancers that are Stage One."