Chemotherapy may not be necessary for the most common form of breast cancer

MILWAUKEE -- The results of a long-awaited study were released this week -- and it's good news for women with breast cancer: many don't need chemo. Dr. Lubna Chaudhary with Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin joins FOX6 WakeUp with the details.

What’s the main takeaway women need to understand about this study?
Breast cancer is the most common cancer for women in the US and worldwide.
The study focused on a particular type of breast cancer -- a common type of early-stage breast cancer (age of patient, etc.)
The results suggest that these women can undergo hormone therapy alone instead of hormone therapy and chemotherapy?

What is chemotherapy or chemo as it’s called?
Chemo refers to the treatment of disease by the use of chemical substances, especially the treatment of cancer by cytotoxic and other drugs.

Before the study was released, did every breast cancer patient need chemotherapy?
No, but chemotherapy is one of three common treatments used to slow down the progression or kill cancer cells. It’s associated with side effects such as fatigue and nausea.

Who benefits the most from this study?
The study included more than 10,000 women with the same type of breast cancer: early-stage, hormone-receptor-positive, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-negative breast cancer. Those are the women who need to have that conversation with their physician to determine if their treatment plan will change.

It’s scary that one day so many women need chemo and literally the next, they don’t. How do you address this concern or fear?
Women should feel comfortable and safe asking their oncologist about what this study may mean to them.
Froedtert & MCW is an academic medical institution committed to providing the very best to our patients and that includes understanding new research and how it can help our patient through their cancer journeys.