MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA/NBC) - Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, affecting one in eight women in the United States.
But for some women, beating the disease may no longer require chemotherapy.
46-year-old Amy Adam was lucky that a mammogram caught her cancer early when the tumor was just 3 by 4 millimeters. Her treatment was a lumpectomy followed by radiation.
Dr. Emily Albright, a surgical oncologist at MU Health Care, says more women with early-stage breast cancer like Amy may be able to skip chemotherapy thanks to a recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
"The recent results have clarified that for women at intermediate risk of recurrence, the majority of those do not benefit from chemotherapy," said Dr. Albright.
That's expected to spare up to 70 thousand patients a year in the U.S. from the side effects of chemo.
Dr. Albright says treatment is evolving and becoming more targeted.
“As we learn more about the biology, we are able to tailor treatments to the specific type of tumor that a patient has, so there are some small tumors that may be more aggressive and there may be some larger tumors that are less aggressive,” Albright said.
It's good news to survivors like Amy who's now focused on encouraging others and offering hope to those still fighting.
“It’s okay to let people bring you dinner," Adam said. "It’s okay to let people take care of your kids and just take care of you. Take advantage of your community.”
By the way, a regular screening was key in catching Amy's cancer early.
Mammograms can detect a lump two years before you can even feel it.