Gene Test May Help Predict Return of Early Breast Tumor, Study Says

Posted: December 13, 2014 at 3:42 am

By Amy Norton HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Dec. 12, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- For women who have early breast tumors surgically removed, a new genetic test may help predict the odds of a recurrence, a new study says.

The research, presented Friday at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, focused on women with ductal carcinoma in situ.

This refers to abnormal cells in the lining of the milk ducts that may or may not progress to cancer that invades the surrounding breast tissue. Because there is no way of foretelling a progression, surgery is usually performed to remove the abnormality.

In the new study, researchers looked at whether a new test that zeroes in on certain genes can help predict which women will have their ductal carcinoma in situ recur after surgery. The goal is to aid doctors and patients in deciding on further treatment.

Right now, surgery is often followed by radiation and, in some cases, the drug tamoxifen, said Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society.

"But we'd all like to have a way to identify women who can avoid further treatment, and those who should have it," said Lichtenfeld, who was not involved in the study.

He explained that doctors already consider a number of factors that affect a woman's need for further treatment. Those include age, the size of the abnormality and its "grade" -- a measure of how aggressive it appears.

"This gene test may add some information to the decision-making process," Lichtenfeld said.

But he stressed that the ultimate value of the test -- known as Oncotype DX -- is not yet known, even though it is already on the market.

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Gene Test May Help Predict Return of Early Breast Tumor, Study Says

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