New Treatment Approach May Offer Breast Cancer Patients Lower Expenses, Fewer Side Effects

Hormone treatment may prove to be effective alternative option for patients with invasive lobular carcinoma.

Hormone treatment may prove to be effective alternative option for patients with invasive lobular carcinoma.

Recent analysis suggests that some patients with breast cancer may be able to avoid chemotherapy while still receiving effective treatment.

According to a study by Allina Health’s Virginia Piper Cancer Institute at Abbott Northwestern Hospital, most breast cancer patients with invasive lobular carcinoma may not need treatment with chemotherapy, but instead could just be treated with hormones alone.

Researchers studied the results of 158 patients over the last 8 years who presented with cases of invasive lobular carcinoma breast cancer at the Allina Health Laboratory. Included were patients with invasive lobular carcinoma breast cancer who also had molecular testing with the Oncotype DX gene expression test.

Researchers and Allina Health pathologists worked together to define a model that included characteristics of a tumor most predictive of the recurrence risk identified on the Ocotype DX gene expression test: progesterone receptor expression Ki-67, estrogen receptor expression, patient age, and tumor size.

“This model, if validated, may be useful in changing local practice patterns of ordering Oncotype DX testing for many ILC cases with low risk features. This would enable earlier and more cost effective treatment decision making for patients with this breast cancer subtype,” said Michaela Tsai, MD oncologist with Minnesota Oncology and breast cancer researcher at Virginia Piper Cancer Institute.

The test, which costs approximately $4,000, is performed by Genomic Health in Redwood City, California.

More than 180,000 women in the United States are affected by invasive breast cancer each year, according to the American Cancer Society. Of those, approximately 10% have ILC, which tends to occur in women aged older than 60 years. It feels like thickened tissue rather than a lump and can spread throughout the breast before it is detected.

“Less is known about the optimal management of this less common subtype of breast cancer. It has been lumped together with ductal cancer and treated the same way. Our study helps prove that not all breast cancers are the same. This subtype requires a unique treatment approach,” Tsai concluded.