HealthWatch: Breast Cancer Clinical Trial

Health Watch

Clinical trials are an important tool in the advancement of medicines and treatments.

Aurora BayCare Medical Center is involved in dozens of such trials.

That includes a groundbreaking cancer trial that changed the way breast cancer is treated today.

The TAILORx study was one of the most important studies for breast cancer patients over the last 25 years.

Years ago, oncologists advised every woman who was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer to get chemo therapy and hormonal therapy, but the ground breaking TAILORx Clinical Trial changed that.

Cancer survivor Virginia Mortenson is having a good checkup with medical oncologist Dhimant Patel the Medical Director at Aurora BayCare Cancer Care.

“I am 12 years out no recurrence,” said Virginia Mortenson, cancer survivor.

In 2007, Virginia was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. She had a lumpectomy. Then she met with Dr. Patel to figure out which follow up treatment was right for her.

“When we talked about it he had other alternatives to just chemo,” said Dhimant Patel, MD, Medical Director, Aurora BayCare Cancer Care.

Back then, chemotherapy would have been part of her standard treatment, but another option was to join the TAILORx Clinical Trial, tailoring the treatment to the patient.

“That study really changed the way we treat breast cancer,” said Dr. Patel.

Decades ago, “all we did was anything with more than one centimeter anything that looked ugly we just gave chemotherapy,” explained Dr. Patel.

The TAILORx Clinical Trial looked at the genomic profile of each of the participant’s cancer and then personalized their treatment.

“Then put patients in certain sub groups depending on the high risk, intermediate group or low risk group,” said Dr. Patel. “It’ll get randomized to receive hormonal therapy alone, chemo plus hormonal therapy or chemotherapy. Basically started identifying patients who did not benefit at all through chemotherapy,” explained Dr. Patel.

Which would spare those patients chemo and it’s side effects, “hair loss, nausea, vomiting, lowering of blood counts, increasing risk of infections,” explained Dr. Patel.

The trial involved more than 10,000 women with early stage breast cancer and found, “basically what the study revealed is that the majority of breast cancer patients did not need chemotherapy because they had no benefit from chemotherapy, so we just put them on anti-hormonal therapy so you avoid the risks and toxicity of chemotherapy,” explained Dr. Patel.

Virginia entered the trial and was randomly chosen to receive only hormonal therapy with no chemo.

”I was really on the fence whether or not chemo would be helpful to me. I wanted to be responsible, but if it wasn’t going to be any more advantageous than just going through hormone therapy, then why do that ?” said Virginia.

Virginia said she’s glad she was part of the trial, “because it’s helpful, it’s advancing the medical cause, it’s helping other women.”

Dr. Patel says today, because of the TAILORx Trial, about 60% of early stage breast cancer patients do not receive chemo.

To learn more you can call AuroraBayCare at 866-938-0035 or email

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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