Reading Genes Helps Predict
Breast Cancer Recurrence
Breast cancer specialists at Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin are using a genetic profiling test, Oncotype DX, to help doctors develop an effective treatment plan that spares women the ordeal of chemotherapy if they don’t need it.
“Oncotype DX is at the forefront of a new wave of gene-based tests for cancer,” says Janet Hosenpud, MD, a Medical College of Wisconsin medical oncologist and breast cancer specialist.
The test scans the activity of 21 genes in a small sample of a patient’s preserved tumor tissue to predict how the tumor is likely to behave. It then classifies recurrence risk as high, medium or low. In studies, the test not only accurately predicted recurrence, it also revealed that chemotherapy significantly helps patients at high risk for recurrence — but not those at low risk.
According to Dr. Hosenpud, most breast cancers that haven’t spread to the lymph nodes will not recur after surgery. “We calculate risk based on the size of a tumor and the patient’s age. Chemotherapy has traditionally been part of the gold standard of treatment, because it offers additional protection against recurrence,” she says. “With the availability of Oncotype DX, women and their doctors can make better, more informed treatment decisions.”
Source: Froedtert Today
Date: September 2005