Breast cancer sufferers could be spared chemotherapy

A new test has been developed that could mean that almost half of women in the early stages of breast cancer will be able to avoid chemotherapy

A new test has been developed that could mean that almost half of women in the early stages of breast cancer will be able to avoid chemotherapy.

The genetic test, called Oncotype DX, helps doctors see how likely it is that the disease will recur.

Chemotherapy is currently given after surgery to minimize the chances of cancer returning.

Side effects of chemotherapy include fatigue, nausea, vomiting and hair loss – and new research suggests that in 46 per cent of cases, it may be unnecessary.

Simon Holt, a breast surgeon at the Hywel Dda Health Board in Wales, has said: ‘With nearly 50,000 women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer each year in the UK, a genomic test like Oncotype DX that is capable of predicting treatment benefits and/or outcomes may have an important role to play in improving treatment decision making and ultimately impacting on quality of care.’

The test, currently only available in the United States, is non-invasive and uses a small sample of breast tissue to examine the likelihood of the cancer returning and how it will respond to treatment.

Speaking at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, Holt went onto say that as well as sparing thousands of women the pain of chemotherapy, the new test has far-reaching financial benefits.

‘Oncotype DX allows us to use our health funds more effectively while sparing patients from unnecessary chemotherapy.’

Around 46,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK every year.

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