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Measuring Levels of Specific Protein Doesn’t Help Decide Who Benefits From Chemotherapy

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A study found that measuring levels of the protein Ki-67 in breast cancers doesn't help decide who would benefit from chemotherapy in women diagnosed with hormone-receptor-positive, lymph-node-negative early breast cancer. The study did find that higher levels of Ki-67 are linked to worse prognosis.

After surgery, many women will have one or more adjuvant treatments. Adjuvant treatments, such as:

  • radiation therapy
  • hormonal therapy
  • chemotherapy

are used to get rid of any cancer cells that might have been left behind after surgery. Adjuvant treatments also can lower the risk of the cancer coming back.

When deciding which adjuvant treatments would help a woman, doctors weigh the risks and side effects of each treatment against its benefits. Having a test that would predict whether a woman is likely to benefit from adjuvant chemotherapy would be very helpful. Researchers have been looking for different types of markers that could be the basis for this kind of test.

One test, the Oncotype DX, can help make treatment decisions for postmenopausal women diagnosed with estrogen-receptor-positive early breast cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes. By looking at specific genes in the breast cancer, the Oncotype DX can help predict the likelihood of the cancer coming back. It can also predict whether a woman would benefit from adjuvant hormonal therapy AND chemotherapy, instead of just hormonal therapy alone.

Neither the Oncotype DX nor any other test are perfect at predicting whether or not you'll get any benefit from chemotherapy. Each woman's situation is unique, so you and your doctor will want to consider other factors, such as:

  • your age
  • the size of the cancer
  • hormone receptor protein levels
  • cancer grade

when deciding on whether you'd benefit from chemotherapy. Together, you can make the best treatment decisions for YOU.

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