New diagnostic breast cancer test now available in Ireland
The HSE National Cancer Control Programme has confirmed this week that agreement has been reached to allow for the diagnostic test Oncotype DX to be made available to appropriate breast cancer patients in the eight designated cancer centres (inclusive of the satellite in Letterkenny General Hospital).
Announcing the decision, the Director of the National Cancer Control Programme, Dr Susan O’ Reilly said she was “delighted that this new test is now available for a specific group of Irish breast cancer patients. It is a great example of the application of emerging molecular guided technology influencing traditional decision making. This particular test is clinically beneficial and represents value for money.”
The NCCP will require that the test be confined to a clearly defined population of node negative breast cancer patients who have had their treatment plan and suitability for chemotherapy and testing confirmed at one of the designated cancer centres (including the satellite at Letterkenny General Hospital).
About Oncotype DX
Oncotype DX is a laboratory test indicated for women for node negative, hormone receptor positive and HER 2 Neu negative invasive breast cancer. The test provides a risk score that helps determine whether a woman should proceed with curative adjuvant chemotherapy in addition to hormone therapy. The clinical data published for the use of this test has indicated that up to 30% of women who would otherwise have received chemotherapy will now be considered as low risk and as a result will be spared the toxicity and long term side effects of treatment.
The test looks at a group of 21 genes within a woman’s tumour sample – 16 cancer genes and 5 control genes – to see how they are expressed, or how active they are. The results of the test are reported as a quantitative recurrence Score result, which is a score between 0 and 100 that correlates with the likelihood of a woman’s chances of having her cancer return, and the likelihood that she will benefit from adding chemotherapy to her hormonal therapy.
The Oncotype DX test provides information in addition to standard measures (such as tumour size, tumour grade and lymph node status) that doctors have traditionally used to estimate how likely a woman’s cancer is to return, and to help professionals make treatment decisions.
A specific subset of breast cancer patients will be eligible for the test based on defined clinical criteria. The NCCP expects around 300 women annually to undergo the test, with around 100 women subsequently excluding chemotherapy from their treatment plan.
Great news! I had the Oncotype last year and it provided incredibly useful information in my decision-making process. I’m thrilled to hear that the test will be available to more and more women.
I’m really thrilled about this. This is one of the projects that this years Dip in the Nip agreed to fund in the Education & Research Trust in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda. Even though the numbers it can help are small, for those people it can make a huge difference, as pinkunderbelly says.
Wonderful Maire – I didn’t realize this connection and that makes me even happier to be able to report on this news. Although the numbers may be small, it makes the world of difference to the individual. Speaking as someone who wishes it had been around for me, I know this to be true.
Very interesting. The more women spared unnecessary chemotherapy, the better.
Amen to that!
This is indeed great news! I had the Oncotype test done earlier this year and it helped me in my decision-making process big-time. Based on my pathology and other factors, my oncologist did NOT feel chemo would benefit me; and frankly, in my gut I always felt it would do me more harm than good. I was thankful when my Oncotype score came back in the low-risk category (my score was 16); it validated my decision. Nut make no mistake: Had my score been high, I would have changed my course of treatment and done the chemo. Good luck everyone!
It’s wonderful to hear that validation from you Renn. I know in my heart of hearts, that had this test been available to me 7 years ago, it would also have saved me from having to undergo the grueling process of chemotherapy too.
Excellent news! I hadn’t realized that the Oncotype DX test wasn’t already in Ireland. I didn’t benefit from it because it was not standard in the U.S. when I had my recurrence in 2003. But I’m so happy for all the people who will have a better quality of life due to the wider availability of this resource.
I so wish it had been around for me too Jan – but I guess I am grateful that it is available for all those women who come after us.