GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The medical world is buzzing after the results of a yearslong study on breast cancer treatment were presented Sunday at a conference in Chicago.
Researchers found most women with early-stage breast cancer can safely skip chemotherapy.
“I’ve had several emails already this morning, so the word has spread very fast,” West Michigan oncologist Dr. Kathleen Yost told 24 Hour News 8 Monday.
The study, which used genetic testing and included about 10,000 patients, revealed that women with smaller-sized, estrogen-fueled tumors that had not spread to the lymph nodes fared just as well without chemo as those who received it. The news now means tens of thousands of women likely won’t need treatment beyond surgery and hormone therapy.
“That’s obviously huge for the individual patient. With all the side effects that chemotherapy has, if there’s any way it can be avoided, if it’s not necessary, you don’t want to give it, you don’t want to take it,” Yost said.
She is the principal investigator for the Cancer Research Consortium of West Michigan, an organization that works with hospitals across the region to conduct research trials for cancer patients.
The CRCWM is among a few dozen groups that helped conduct research and find local patients for the groundbreaking study.
“If it weren’t for patients like (ours) throughout the country, we wouldn’t know these answers,” Yost explained.
She said the breast cancer study and others like it show the importance of research groups like the CRCWM and how their work can have huge payoffs.
“You really want to be able to have an outcome that changes practice,” Yost said. “Where you can say, ‘Well, we didn’t know this before, now we do. And going forward we’re going to do things differently.'”
The CRCWM is primarily funded by the National Cancer Institute and has between 100 to 150 trials open at any time.