Breast cancer test to avoid chemotherapy

18th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

18 February 2005, AMSTERDAM — Claiming that many breast cancer patients are incorrectly treated with chemotherapy, Dutch scientists reveal they are developing a gene screening test to spare women from undergoing such treatment. Breast cancer can be cured by an operation on the breast, possibly coupled with radiation treatment, in 60 to 70 percent of cases where the lump has not spread to the lymph gland, the research indicates.

18 February 2005

AMSTERDAM — Claiming that many breast cancer patients are incorrectly treated with chemotherapy, Dutch scientists reveal they are developing a gene screening test to spare women from undergoing such treatment.
  
Breast cancer can be cured by an operation on the breast, possibly coupled with radiation treatment, in 60 to 70 percent of cases where the lump has not spread to the lymph gland, the research indicates.

Academics with the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam also claim that many women are now being "over treated". They hope that a new test will pinpoint women who do not need to undergo chemotherapy.

The results of the research will be published in the British academic journal The Lancet on Saturday, newspaper De Volkskrant reported on Friday.

On average 11,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the Netherlands each year. Despite the fact that the lump has not spread to the lymph gland in 7,000 cases, 85 to 90 percent of patients are treated with additional chemotherapy as a precaution.

"This heavy follow-up treatment is superfluous in many cases," medical oncology professor Dr Jan Klijn said.

The use of powerful chemotherapy drugs can cause severe side effects, such as bone marrow damage, nausea and vomiting and hair loss.

The researchers said a genetic test allowed them to predict those patients whose cancer would spread. The test works by looking at patterns of expression across 76 genes linked to the development of breast cancer.

"We have found 76 genes that predict with more than 90 percent accuracy whether the breast cancer will spread to other organs," research chief Dr John Foekens said.
He said the test can be used for all women irrespective of age, the size of the tumour and the hormone sensitiveness of the cancerous growth.

But before the test can be used in practice, it must be thoroughly assessed by other research centres, the initial results of which have already proven positive.

Klijn expects that the test — which will give women results in a few days — will be released onto the market in a year or two.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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