Cancer Trials Ireland CEO, Eibhlin Mulroe, added that the fact that so many women in Ireland were able to take part in this trial "demonstrates the world-class capability of our unique network of cancer trials research units spread across Ireland".
A leading Scottish breast cancer charity described the findings as "incredible" and "game-changing".
Ahmed Elkhanany, MD, a Roswell Park clinical fellow, is lead author and Kazuaki Takabe, MD, PhD, FACS, Alfiero Foundation Endowed Chair in Breast Oncology, is senior author of the study, "Racial disparity in breast cancer immune microenvironment" (abstract 1081), to be presented in a poster session on Saturday, June 2, from 8 a.m.to 11:30 a.m. CDT in McCormick Place, Poster Hall A.
Using the breast cancer test, which looks at the activity of genes, the test found that more women with lower scores will not require chemotherapy. The trial, which enrolled 10,273 women, aimed to clarify whether hormone therapy alone or together with chemotherapy is better for women with an RS of 11 to 25.
Her case, detailed in the journal Nature Medicine, involves a new treatment which harnesses the body's own immune system to destroy cancerous cells.
After five years, 92.8 percent of the women who received hormone therapy alone, and 93.1 percent of those who received hormone therapy plus chemotherapy, were cancer-free. Generally, after surgery, such patients receive endocrine therapy, such as tamoxifen, which is created to block the cancer-spurring effects of hormones.
Oncotype DX is not available in India but samples are sent overseas for the test. They benefit just as much from chemotherapy, which many don't tolerate well and can have long-term consequences, as they do from hormone treatments, which have many fewer side effects.
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"This study gives us information on a very specific group of women with a very specific type of cancer", she said, "but it doesn't tell us chemotherapy is not effective in some cases".
Forty-nine-year-old Judy Perkins was faced with a terrifying prognosis after several rounds of punishing chemotherapy had failed to stop a tumour in her right breast.
Well, we do this test of 21 genes. Half of that group also got chemotherapy. Previous studies had made clear that women with low scores could skip chemotherapy and those with high scores should get it.
Doctors who cared for the woman at the US National Cancer Institute in Maryland said Perkins's response had been "remarkable": the therapy wiped out cancer cells so effectively that she has now been free of the disease for two years.
"We are thrilled by this early finding, but we must remember that this type of immunotherapy remains an experimental approach that has a long way to go before it might be routinely available to patients".
Jennifer Litton, an associate professor and oncologist at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, told USA Today that the results will help patients and their doctors make more informed decisions. Under 50s with a score of up to 15 can also be spared the treatment, according to the research. Doctors know that most don't need it, but evidence is thin on who can forgo it.
Perkins, who lives in Port Lucie, Florida, sent two friends with breast cancer to Rosenberg's lab and both of them died despite the treatment - one of them with severe side-effects from the treatment itself, she said. "If we are going to take a step back" from chemotherapy, he said, "we really had to be sure".