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Genetic Test Shows Promise in Guiding Breast Cancer Care
Date:5/10/2011

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, May 10 (HealthDay News) -- Scientists have developed a new, albeit preliminary, genetic test that seems to predict which breast cancer patients can benefit from specific types of chemotherapy.

That, in turn, could greatly help guide treatment, according to a study in the May 11 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The findings are exciting but need to be replicated, said one expert, Dr. Iuliana Shapira, director of cancer genetics at Monter Cancer Center and assistant professor of medicine at Hofstra University North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System in Lake Success, NY. She was not involved in the study.

According to the study's lead author, Dr. W. Fraser Symmans, gene-based tests such as the Oncotype DX are already in wide used to help guide breast cancer care. That test can help predict a patient's chance for breast cancer recurrence, but only if they have estrogen-receptor-positive breast tumor and are treated with hormone therapy, said Symmans, who is professor of pathology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Based on the results of Oncotype DX, "patients with low risk might [be able to] avoid chemotherapy," he said.

The new study looked at a newer "genomic predictor" of breast cancer treatment response and survival for women with newly diagnosed, invasive breast cancer. The study was based on tumor samples taken from 310 patients with HER2/neu-negative breast cancer who were treated sequentially with two chemotherapy drugs, taxane and anthracyline, both common components of breast cancer chemotherapy.

If the tumors were estrogen-receptor (ER)-positive (meaning their tumors responded to estrogen), the women were also treated with hormonal (endocrine) therapy.

The new test appeared to be effective in predicting outcomes: 92 percent of the women that the test predicted would
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