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tailored therapy may be best for early breast cancer

tailored therapy may be best for early breast cancer

Tailoring treatment for early breast cancer based on a genetic test that looks for 21 key genes in breast cancer cells can help avoid giving expensive. debilitating chemotherapy to patients who will not benefit from it, the Associated Press reports. The vast majority of women treated for small, hormone-sensitive breast tumors that have not spread require only surgery, radiation, and hormone treatment, researchers say, but virtually all of them are also prescribed chemotherapy to cover the few women with more aggressive forms of cancer.

A new test from Genonic Health, called the Oncotype DX test, screens for 21 key genes in breast cancer tumors that predict the likelihood of a recurrence and whether chemotherapy might be needed. The test results appear on a scale from 0 to 100, with higher numbers indicating greater risk of recurrence. For women with scores greater than 30, chemotherapy is helpful, the researchers say. Studies have shown that women with scores over 30 who received chemotherapy improved their odds of being cancer-free 10 years after their initial diagnosis, from 61% to 88%. However, for women with scores below 18, chemotherapy was shown to make no difference in lowering the possibility of recurrence.

Data was inconclusive for women with genetic test scores between 18 and 30; an ongoing National Cancer Institute study involving 10,000 women is attempting to determine the best course of treatment for women who fall into this category. (The Advocate)

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