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Genetic testing could help avoid unnecessary chemo

Some Pennsylvania women with breast cancer may find relief from the rigors of treatment: A recent study shows that many women may not need chemotherapy to prevent a cancer recurrence. According to the study presented to the American Society of Oncology, around 70 percent of women diagnosed with a common type of early-stage breast cancer may not receive additional benefits from receiving chemotherapy as part of their treatment.

The study emphasized the importance of using a 21-gene expression test, which evaluates women for the presence of certain genes that could predispose them to a recurrence of breast cancer in the future. If the test indicates that a woman is unlikely to receive a benefit from chemotherapy, she can be spared the time, expense and physical side effects of chemotherapeutic treatment. Physicians said that chemotherapy can carry significant side effects for many women.

There were 1.7 million new cases of breast cancer in 2012; it is the cancer most commonly diagnosed among women around the world. Early diagnosis has helped to save many women's lives and also presents the potential of avoiding the severe side effects of chemotherapy. When cancer is misdiagnosed early on, it has more time to grow and spread to other organs and areas of the body, making treatment more difficult and survival less likely.

Cancer treatment can be one of the most arduous and difficult types of medical treatment a person can undergo; the effects of cancer itself can be deadly if the medical response is unsuccessful. When doctors make a mistake with cancer diagnosis and treatment, the repercussions can be significant. People who have gone through a misdiagnosis or incorrect treatment decision and who have suffered a worsened condition as a result may wish to consult with a medical malpractice lawyer to discuss seeking compensation for the damages done.

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