Test Results Can Affect Breast Cancer Treatment Decisions

Study suggests assay predicts recurrence risk and magnitude of chemotherapy benefit

TUESDAY, Jan. 12 (HealthDay News) -- The results of an assay to predict the risk of recurrence and the benefit of chemotherapy in breast cancer patients has a significant impact on treatment decisions for both physicians and patients, according to a study published online Jan. 11 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Shelly S. Lo, M.D., from the Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Ill., and colleagues examined whether the commercially available 21-gene Recurrence Score assay, used to determine the recurrence risk and chemotherapy benefit in tamoxifen-treated patients with node-negative estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer, affected physician and patient adjuvant treatment selection over and above standard prognostic factors in 89 patients. The impact of the assay on patient anxiety, quality of life, and satisfaction with the choice of treatment was also determined.

The researchers found that after receiving the assay results, the treatment recommendation of the medical oncologist changed for 31.5 percent of patients, and 27 percent of patients changed their treatment decision. The largest change was to recommend hormone therapy rather than chemotherapy plus hormonal therapy. The assay increased physician confidence in their treatment recommendation in 76 percent of cases, while patients reported significantly lower anxiety and decisional conflict.

"In conclusion, the Recurrence Score assay impacts significantly on physician and patient adjuvant treatment decision making," Lo and colleagues write. "In addition, Recurrence Score results have an enduring impact on physician confidence in their treatment recommendation, patient satisfaction, and decreased patient anxiety."

The study was supported by Genomic Health. Several authors reported advisory, consulting or financial ties with Genomic Health, which produces the assay.

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Physician’s Briefing Staff

Published on January 12, 2010

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