New York, July 3: Researchers have found women with breast cancer will have a very low risk of death even 20 years after diagnosis and tumour removal.
As a result, ‘ultralow’ risk patients could be treated less aggressively and overtreatment avoided, leading to fewer toxic effects.
“We can now test small node-negative breast cancers, and if they are in the ultralow risk category, we can tell women that they are highly unlikely to die of their cancers and do not need aggressive treatment, including radiation after lumpectomy,” said lead author Laura Esserman, breast cancer specialist and surgeon.
Oncologists have discussed that tumours can be exacerbated by screening.
“This is an exciting advance because approximately 20-25 per cent of tumours diagnosed today may be ultralow risk,” said Esserman, professor at University of California.
The issue is serious because breast cancer can recur many years for low-grade tumours, the majority of the risk occurs after five years.
Ultralow risk tumours at the time of diagnosis have not been available.
The test, called MammaPrint was conducted on 1,780 patients.
“There are breast cancers that pose little or no systemic risk,” said Esserman.
“Women who have a tumour that is classified as ultralow risk by 70-gene signature can be reassured that their long-term outcome is expected to be excellent,” Esserman added.