Breast Cancer May Vanish Without Chemo

Fewer cancers found in women screened less often
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 25, 2008 4:40 AM CST
Some 1,500 bras, representing the annual number of breast cancer victims in Switzerland, wave over Bundesplatz square, opposite the parliament building, in Bern, Switzerland last month.   (AP Photo/Keystone, Peter Klaunzer)
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(Newser) – Breast cancer goes into spontaneous remission far more often than had been believed, a new study has discovered. Researchers found that a fifth more cancers were found in women screened every two years than in a group screened once in six years, leading them to conclude that many cancers may vanish on their own—and raising the possibility that some women are undergoing unnecessary chemotherapy, the Daily Telegraph reports.

The study currently has no practical application because there's no way of knowing which cancers will regress on their own. Some experts believe the findings could someday lead to major changes in how early-stage breast cancer is treated—but others charge that the study dangerously oversimplifies the issue. The findings, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, do not contradict the fact that breast cancer screening saves lives, researchers emphasize.