Younger women with breast cancer may be helped with better tailoring of chemotherapy regimens, according to a Canadian study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Patient-specific regimens, noted the study, can often help women avoid the side-effects that come with more severe treatment plans.
The study found that premenopausal women whose cancers overproduced a protein called HER2 (also called HER2/neu) responded better to an aggressive type of chemotherapy containing agents from the anthracycline class of drugs. But in women whose cancers were HER2-negative, this more toxic and more expensive form of chemotherapy did not produce better results than alternative regimens.
"I think the broad message is that increasingly, by careful pathology, we're able to tailor the treatment more for individual patients," Kathleen Pritchard, lead author of the study and a physician at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center in Toronto. Told the Canadian press."And that we're able to pick out patients who are likely to do well with more chemotherapy, more hormone therapy, something in between or different types of chemotherapy."