Clinical Research Finds Many Women with Breast Cancer Can Avoid Chemotherapy
In June 2018, a clinical research study funded by the National Cancer Institute showed that most women with the most common form of early-stage breast cancer may now be able to receive successful treatment that does not include chemotherapy. Most women in this situation don’t need treatment beyond surgery and hormone therapy.
In these cases, women with early-stage disease that have not spread to lymph nodes have a stage of cancer that is fueled by the body’s hormones (estrogen or progesterone). These stages of cancer are not the type that chemotherapy targets. Treatment would include surgery followed by years of a hormone-blocking drug.
This study, which never would have happened without clinical research, was offered at locations across CHI Health with many women choosing to participate. The findings will transform care immediately, and for the better.
Research Advances Care
The idea for a clinical research study—also known as a clinical trial—often starts in the laboratory. After researchers test new therapies or procedures in the laboratory and in animal studies, the most promising experimental treatments are moved into clinical trials, which are conducted in phases.
During a trial, more information is gained about an experimental treatment, its risks, and its effectiveness. The goal of the research is to produce new knowledge or deepen understanding of a topic or issue.
Through clinical research studies, cancer care is beginning to look at ways of moving away from chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is an older drug, but in most cases still, the principal tool that is used to help those diagnosed with cancer. However, the side effects of chemotherapy can be harsh.
More favorable non-chemotherapy treatments might begin with gene-targeting therapies, which are drugs or other substances that block the growth and spread of cancer by interfering with specific molecules that are involved in the growth, progression, and spread of cancer.
Other treatments might include immunotherapy, which is a treatment that uses certain parts of a person’s immune system to fight diseases by stimulating the immune system to work harder or smarter to attack cancer cells.
Research Happens Here
Five years ago leaders at CHI Health worked nationally to start the CHI NCORP (NCI Community Oncology Research Program). The purpose of the program was to partner with the National Cancer Institute so that oncology research trials could be more available at CHI hospitals and oncology offices.
Today clinical oncology research which typically is available at academic hospitals or in large metropolitan cities is also available at CHI Health sites in Kearney, Grand Island, Lincoln, Omaha and southeast Iowa. Oncology research is just another way that CHI Health demonstrates its commitment to our mission of creating healthier communities.