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Need or Can Avoid Chemo?

Genomic testing may be able to tell patients if they could avoid chemotherapy, Rochester's Democrat and Chronicle reports.

While chemotherapy is a life-saving treatment for some patients, the Democrat and Chronicle notes that over treatment is also an issue. Some patients may have an aggressive tumor that requires treatment with chemotherapy, but other patients may have a tumor that's less active. The trick is distinguishing the two and that's where genomic testing comes in, the Democrat and Chronicle says.

A study appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine in August gauged the clinical and genomic risk of disease recurrence in women with early-stage breast cancer. The researchers concluded, as GenomeWeb reported, that women with high clinical risk, but low genomic risk of recurrence might not need adjuvant chemotherapy.

"The genomic risk profile is designed to give us a better idea of the biology of the cancer itself, and it provides important information about which patients are going to get the best benefit from chemotherapy," oncologist Alissa Huston from the Wilmot Cancer Institute tells the paper

That means, cancer survivor and advocate Holly Anderson says, that some women can avoid the short- long-term risks associated with chemo, like nausea, hair loss, and damage to the heart and bone marrow.