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Breast test 'could prevent needless chemo'

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Thousands of breast cancer sufferers could be spared unnecessary chemotherapy as a result of a new test, its makers have claimed.

The Oncotype DX test analyses a genetic sample taken from a patient’s tumour and determines whether chemotherapy would be useful in the treatment of the patient or not.

The test, which only works for those who have been newly diagnosed oestrogen-positive, node negative breast cancer, could benefit many of the 45,000 women who get the disease every year, molecular diagnostic company Genomic Health said.

People cannot currently get the test, which has been validated in 13 studies of 4,000 patients, on the NHS and have to pay about £2,500 if they want to take it.

A spokesman for the company said: “At the moment, doctors use measures such as tumour size and grade to determine whether to treat women with chemotherapy after surgery, typically deciding to use it in around half of cases.

“However, studies show that when doctors use the Oncotype DX test, they change their minds on use of chemotherapy in up to 34% of cases.

“In approximately 24% of cases, doctors decide not to prescribe chemotherapy after all, saving women from unpleasant side-effects of chemotherapy.”

“In 10% of cases, doctors using the test realise that chemotherapy is actually needed when previously they thought hormone therapy alone would be sufficient.”

 

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