Health Watch: Avoid chemo during breast cancer treatment

MIAMI, Fla. -- Years ago, women who were diagnosed with breast cancer knew they would almost certainly face radiation or chemotherapy, or a combination of both. Now, doctors say up to 70 percent of patients may not need to undergo chemotherapy as part of their treatment depending on their tumor score.

For Nora Delgado it's family first, then her yoga practice.

Delgado said, "We go there not for our body, we go for our mind, it really transforms you from within."

But when Delgado was diagnosed with breast cancer, it turned her world upside down.

Alejandra Perez, MD, Medical Oncologist at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at University of Miami Miller School of Medicine said, "In America, we diagnose 250,000 women with breast cancer every year."

Now there's some good news for the thousands of women battling this disease thanks to the TAILORx trial. Dr. Perez says the study enrolled 10,000 women with early stage breast cancer.

"They're hormone receptor positive and her2-negative, and they have no lymph node involvement," said Dr. Perez.

The patients' tumors were tested with the oncotype DX test to determine the chance of recurrence.

"Based on that recurrence score you are assigned into a low risk category, an intermediate group, or high risk," Dr. Perez explained.

The patients that scored in the middle were split into two groups.

Dr. Perez continued, "One got hormonal therapy with chemotherapy and the other just got hormonal therapy."

What they found was remarkable.

"If you look at overall survival it was 98 percent for both groups. That means 70 percent of women, we can avoid chemotherapy." Said Dr. Perez.

Delgado's score revealed she didn't need chemo.

"I was very, very lucky, I won the lottery on that day," Delgado said.

She chose to have a double mastectomy and is now on hormone therapy for five years.

She said, "I'm really grateful, happy, content."

Finding peace in her life once again.

Dr. Perez says this doesn't apply to all breast cancer patients. She says pre-menopausal women who scored in the middle may benefit from chemotherapy. So always discuss treatment options with your doctor.