MINDACT has released the results from the clinical trial, and they are as expected – shocking. Namely, a lot of the breast cancer patients have been receiving chemotherapy treatments they didn’t need.
This was discovered thanks to the genetic test called MamaPrint which discovered that nearly half the women who underwent chemo didn’t actually needed it.
The co-researcher Laura van Veer stated that after removing the tumors by undergoing surgery, early-stage breast cancer patients (0-3 positive nodes) with a MammaPrint score recommending against chemotherapy had a 95% survival rate.
“That’s very high, and we showed that it doesn’t differ between those who are treated and those who are not treated by chemotherapy,” said van Veer, leader of the breast oncology program at the University of California, San Francisco Diller Family Cancer Center.
AACR President and chief medical officer of Memorial Hospital at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, in New York City, Dr. Jose Baselga stated that the MINDACT phase 3 clinical trial that involved nearly 6,700 women at 111 medical centers in nine countries “represents what we in medicine call the highest level of evidence (level 1A).”
“This study is telling us in a very clear way we can spare many women chemotherapy,” said Baselga.
The MammaPrint surveys a panel of 70 genes within the tumor itself to assess its aggressiveness and the odds it will come back without chemotherapy.
“Our test looks under the hood, at the engine of the tumor,” said van Veer. “The biology tells more about the tumor than simply examining its size, because you’re really looking into the tumor.”
The patients were divided in four groups in the clinical trial. The group division was based on whether MammaPrint testing or traditional clinical assessment recommended chemotherapy (from a tool that oncologists use called Adjuvant!).
According to the researchers, MammaPrint decreased chemotherapy prescriptions by 46% among more than 3,300 patients in the trial categorized as having a high risk of breast cancer recurrence based on common clinical and pathological criteria.
Moreover, researchers stated that over 2,700 patients who had a low MammaPrint risk score but a high clinical risk score wound up with a 94.7 percent five-year survival rate, whether they got chemo or not.
“If we can select those patients that don’t need chemotherapy, unneeded treatment can be avoided and we will be one step closer to making sure treatment for breast cancer is tailored to the individual,” said Dr. Stephanie Bernik, chief of surgical oncology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
According to Dr. Victor Vogel, director of Breast Medical Oncology/Research for the Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania, MammaPrint will be especially important to young women with breast cancer, because they have been more likely to receive chemotherapy in standard breast cancer care, which can negatively affect their fertility and leave them open to long-term health problems, Vogel said.
“In my training, if you had a young woman with breast cancer, she got chemotherapy,” Vogel said. “But now we can be selective, and we know there’s a very large number of young women with small hormone-responsive tumors who do not need chemotherapy.”
MammaPrint is covered by Medicare and is reimbursed by most large health insurers in the United States, and can and will save millions of health care dollars. Sorry, not sorry Big Pharma!
“You are saving all the money for chemotherapy that would be used for no reason, and you are protecting women from chemotherapy that is toxic and they don’t need,” said Dr Baselga.
It is planned to announce the findings from the study on Monday at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) meeting in New Orleans.
This will hopefully alter the conventional cancer treatment in the right direction.
But, even though the test claims that you can benefit from chemotherapy, don’t think that ‘benefit’ means cure, but rather a temporary tumor shrinkage after which, unfortunately, the cancer often re-grows and spreads much more aggressively.