New study analyzes who needs chemotherapy

A new study analyzing a test that determines who does or doesn't need chemotherapy shows the process is highly accurate.

When you hear cancer treatment, you think of chemo, but doctors say some breast cancer patients can go without it.

Diagnosed with early stage breast cancer, Rachel Klein, of New Hope, had a double mastectomy last fall, but no chemotherapy. A genomic test called MammaPrint told her she didn't need it.

"It's a blessing to be able to survive and to be able to live your life," Klein said.

The study published in the International Journal of Cancer has shown that 97 percent of women, who were determined to be low risk through the MammaPrint test and therefore didn't need chemo, have lived beyond the five-year mark.

Dr. Michaela Tsai is a medical oncologist with Minnesota Oncology.

"It's huge. I think chemotherapy is the part of breast cancer and all cancer treatment that patients fear the most," she said.

The study also says half of early stage breast cancer patients can safely avoid chemotherapy.

For the MammaPrint test, when a tumor is removed, a sample is taken and sent to a lab.

"And it looks at the expression of 70 genes within that tumor that have been associated with a lower or higher risk of breast cancer recurrence," says Dr. Tsai.

Patients are then told if they can avoid chemotherapy. Rachel could and did to avoid the fatigue, nausea and hair loss. The new study is reassuring.

"I feel that I made the right decision," says Rachel.

(Information courtesy NBC News)