A widely prescribed chemotherapy drug isn't effective against the kind of breast cancer it's most commonly used to treat, new research has found. While Taxol worked well for women with overactive HER-2 genes, it didn't significantly help women with the most common form of the disease in which tumors are HER-2 negative and use estrogen to grow.
This could spare many breast cancer patients the neurological side effects of Taxol, including numbness in the hands and feet, which can last for years. As many as 20,000 women a year might be advised to skip the drug if the research holds up. The standard is unlikely to change overnight, however. "It's much easier to give the chemotherapy and know you've been super-aggressive," one doctor explained.