(WJBK) - You think that when a woman gets breast cancer, chemo is the go-to treatment. Well, a groundbreaking new study says that doesn't need to be the case.
The decades' long study found that women with the most common types of breast cancer can avoid chemotherapy. This is being called the largest breast cancer treatment trial ever conducted.
The findings say women with the most common form of early-stage breast cancer can safely forego chemotherapy without hurting their chances of a full recovery.
The results are expected to spare as many as 70,000 women from the expensive procedure that comes with harsh side effects. Instead, doctors say the only treatment necessary is surgery and hormone therapy.
The results reflect a trend of moving away from chemo to treat cancer and, when it is used, it's for shorter periods at smaller doses.
Now, it's much more common to tackle the disease with gene-targeting therapies, hormone blockers and immune system treatments. Chemotherapy, which is medication that kills cancer cells, can keep the cancer from spreading but can also affect health cells and cause unwanted side effects, such as hair loss, anxiety, depression, nausea, fatigue and heart failure.
The study is the largest ever done of breast cancer treatment.
It was conducted by the National Cancer Institute and published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study was funded in part by the proceeds from sales of the breast cancer postage stamp.
According to the American Cancer Society, one in eight women will develop breast cancer in her life. Doctors do say chemotherapy is still effective and necessary in treating certain patients.