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Why Experts Are Rethinking Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer

chemotherapySome women with certain breast cancers may safely avoid chemotherapy after surgery, according to results of a recent study. The research, which is part of a growing body of evidence, shows that a genetic test can determine your risk of not including chemotherapy in cancer treatment.

Chemotherapy is very effective in treating breast cancer. But it is not without side effects. And, in some cases, it is unnecessary, researchers say.

The test, which ranks patients according to risk, has been used for years, but was recently validated in a study of more than 10,000 women.

The study affirmed that a common genetic test can accurately tell women with certain breast cancers whether they can instead be treated with endocrine therapy, which is less harsh than chemotherapy.

More than a decade ago, the National Institutes of Health advised most women with breast cancer to undergo chemotherapy after surgical treatment.

Now doctors are re-thinking that, in particular for women with low-risk disease who likely will do just as well with following surgery with endocrine therapy.

How chemotherapy takes its toll.