(Mirror Daily, United States) – Finding out about a breast cancer diagnose is a difficult enough, but having to undergo chemotherapy can be downright daunting. That’s why the new gene test that can predict whether or not women could be treated without chemotherapy is a game-changer.
Called OncotypeDX, the test analyzes the expression of 21 genes in tumor biopsies. The results of the test helped researchers to accurately predict chemotherapy with or without endocrine was the best choice for each individual patient. Published in the latest issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, the study brings a new ray of hope, allowing doctors to effectively evaluate the patients’ course of treatment.
Study author Dr. Kathy Albain, an oncologist at Loyola University Medical Center, said the news brings reassurance to women and physicians alike. For women affected by breast cancer whose score on the multigene test was really low, endocrine therapy alone did wonders. The test basically provides doctors with almost 100 percent certainty regarding the women who don’t need chemotherapy.
More than 10,253 women with hormone-receptor positive breast cancer were part of the study. Their cancers weren’t spread to the lymph nodes yet, but the tumor’s features suggested chemotherapy as treatment, in addition to endocrine therapy.
The OncotypeDX uses a score of 0 to 100 for each tumor, a score that evaluates the cancer’s chances of spreading or recurring. A score of 0 to 10, for example, indicates that the tumor has very little chances of coming back after treatment is completed.
Of all the women in the study, 15.9 percent – or 1,626 – had scored between 0 and 10, so they were administered only tamoxifen and no chemotherapy. A 5-year follow-up revealed that the survival rate was at 98 percent, with less than a 2 percent chance that the cancer had spread in the body.
In the editorial accompanying the study in the publication, Dr. Clifford Hudis mentions one big obstacle, which is the raised cost of the test. Even though insurers like Medicare cover it, the test is about $4,000; patients whose tumors score between 11 and 25 are automatically covered.
The next step is providing the general population with a multigene test that’s less expensive and thus more accessible. For now, however, this is the best option, and an important step towards proving that we are able to develop reproducible predictive tests.
Image Source: Waking Times