More Women With Breast Cancer May Soon Be Skipping Chemotherapy

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More Women With Breast Cancer May Soon Be Skipping Chemotherapy

The need for chemotherapy is being reevaluated for many breast cancer patients.

Phyllis Lacetti found her own breast cancer when she felt an abnormal lump in her right breast in 2007. A nurse at Montefiore Medical Center, she had a lumpectomy to remove it, but an MRI afterward revealed remaining cancer cells, so she opted to get a mastectomy.

Her cancer doctor recommended she get chemotherapy to ensure that her cancer wouldn’t recur, since Lacetti’s family history put her at high risk. Her sister and father had died of leukemia, and her brother passed away from thyroid cancer. Chemotherapy, he said, was her best option for preventing the cancer from returning.

But Lacetti was reticent about getting the toxic therapy. “I saw my sister suffer, I saw my brother suffer, and I didn’t know if that’s what I wanted to do,” she says.

Her doctor, Dr. Joseph Sparano, associate director of clinical research at Albert Einstein Cancer Center at Montefiore, happened to be heading up a large study investigating whether women like Lacetti could safely avoid getting chemotherapy. He was comparing women who had been treated with surgery or radiation who were then only given hormonal therapies (that block hormones like estrogen, which fuel tumor growth), to women who received both hormone therapies and chemotherapy. Lacetti was eager to join to help doctors learn more about whether chemo was really necessary for people like her.

Read on: More Women With Breast Cancer May Soon Be Skipping Chemotherapy | Time

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