Breast cancer tests vary in accuracy

The Oncotype Dx Recurrence Score, PAM50-based Prosigna Risk of Recurrence Score (ROR), Breast Cancer Index (BCI) and the EndoPredict (EPclin) were used on tumour samples from 774 women.

Each test identifies different genetic signatures that help predict the chance of cancer returning. The eldest test, Oncotype DX, was found to be the worst at predicting recurrent breast cancer in patients where the cancer had spread to the lymph nodes.

All four tests were found to be useful when testing for recurrence 0-10 years after the original diagnosis, but only ROR, BCI and EPclin were useful predicting recurrence 5-10 years later.

Lead researcher, Dr Ivana Sestak, commented on the study:

“If a woman is deemed high risk of recurrence by any test, the benefit of chemotherapy is greatest. In contrast, if a woman is deemed low risk then endocrine therapy alone will be sufficient and patients could forego chemotherapy and its side effects… If we were better able to accurately assess a woman’s long-term risk, then some women may be able to end their endocrine therapy after five years… But for those deemed high risk of a late recurrence, continuing their endocrine therapy would be a valuable option.”

Professor Arnie Purushotham, Cancer Research UK senior adviser, added:

“This could help patients and their doctors decide on the best course of treatment and whether to extend the use of hormone therapies which are given to try and prevent this from happening.”

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