The study, presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting in Chicago, is thought to be the largest breast cancer treatment trial ever conducted.
"These findings, showing no benefit from receiving chemotherapy plus hormone therapy for most patients in this intermediate-risk group, will go a long way to support oncologists and patients in decisions about the best course of treatment", Dr. Jeffrey Abrams, associate director of the National Cancer Institute's Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program, said in a statement.
Breast cancer appears due to an uncontrolled growth on the breasts.
Dr Alistair Ring, consultant medical oncologist at the Royal Marsden NHS Hospital, in London, said: 'I think this is a fundamental change in the way we treat women with early-stage breast cancer and will lead to a considerable number of women no longer needing to have chemotherapy'.
Some study leaders consult for breast cancer drugmakers or for the company that makes the gene test. The women in the "unfavourable" range had to receive chemotherapy. When chemo is used now, it's sometimes for shorter periods or lower doses than it once was.
The study is strictly about early stage breast cancers - specifically those that can still be treated with hormone therapy, have not spread to the lymph nodes and do not have the HER2 mutation, which makes them grow more quickly.
A pharmacist selects drugs for chemotherapy treatment in the pharmacy at Antoine-Lacassagne Cancer Centre in Nice October 18, 2012. They represent roughly half of the more than 17,000 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed in Australia every year.
"Now, the vast majority of patients can potentially receive benefits from immunotherapy instead", he added.
It was hormone receptor-positive and wasn't the kind of tumour that responds to the drug Herceptin. A high recurrence score, above 25, means chemo is necessary to ward off a recurrence while a low score, below 10, means it is not. The 16 percent with low-risk scores now know they can skip chemo, based on earlier results from this study.
This researchers split the middle-scoring group into two randomized subgroups: one treated exclusively with estrogen-blocking hormone therapy, and one with chemo combined with hormone therapy.
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The results showed that there was "no significant difference" in terms of cancer eradication or cancer recurrence between the two groups.
A woman with advanced breast cancer which had spread around her body has been completely cleared of the disease by a groundbreaking therapy that harnessed the power of her immune system to fight the tumours.
Dr Ring said the trial's reuslts would likely have an immediate impact on United Kingdom practice and represented a significant shake-up in the treatment of early-stage breast cancer. Oncotype DX and other genomic tests have spurred a trend sure to accelerate following Sunday's report. She was shocked in 2010 when doctors found two tumours in one of her breasts during a mammogram.
Testing solved a big problem of figuring out who needs chemo, said Dr. Harold Burstein of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
The results "should have a huge impact on doctors and patients", Albain said.
Dr. Jennifer Litton at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, agreed, but said: "Risk to one person is not the same thing as risk to another. There are some people who say, 'I don't care what you say, I'm never going to do chemo, '" and won't even have the gene test, she said. The results showed there might be a small benefit from chemotherapy.
Adine Usher, 78, who lives in Hartsdale, New York, joined the study 10 years ago at Montefiore and was randomly assigned to the group given chemo.
"I was a little relieved".
"They were sick all the time", she said.
Melinda Bachini, a former paramedic who lives in Billings, Montana, believes the treatment saved her life.