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Barriers to obtaining gene expression profiling test heightened perceived value
Date:6/17/2014

Barriers to obtaining gene expression profiling test heightened perceived value among patients, new study says TORONTO, June 17, 2014Barriers to obtaining gene expression profiling tests heightened their perceived importance among patients with early breast cancer who were deciding whether to have chemotherapy, a new study says.

Gene expression profiling tests, such as Oncotype Dx, analyze the patterns of 21 different genes within cancer cells to help predict how likely it is that a women's cancer will recur within 10 years after initial treatment and how beneficial chemotherapy will be to her.

Dr. Yvonne Bombard, a genomics and health services researcher in the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael's Hospital, found that access to this newly available and expensive technology is subject to careful administration and oversight.

However, she said that has created unintended consequences such as making oncologists gatekeepers for determining when it was medically appropriate for someone to have the test, leading to perceived inequalities in access by patients. Moreover, media attention made patients more aware of the gene expression profiling tests and led them to specifically ask for them, but that complicated physicians' gatekeeping efforts, sometimes hurting the doctor-patient relationship.

"There was a sense that the test was scarce or difficult to obtain, which heightened patients' desire for it and led them to perceive gene expression profiling tests as the deciding factor in their chemotherapy decisions, over and above other clinical tests and indicators," she said.

Dr. Bombard interviewed 14 oncologists and 28 breast cancer patients in Ontario for a study published today in Current Oncology. Ontario was the first province in Canada to fund gene expression profiling tests.

She said the careful oversight required of oncologists to the test created perceived inequities in access among patients. This often o
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Contact: Leslie Shepherd
shepherdl@smh.ca
416-864-6094
St. Michael's Hospital
Source:Eurekalert  

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