About the Test

In the UK 1 in 2 people will get cancer in their lifetime.1 In this context, breast cancer has become the most common cancer in the UK, accounting for 15% of all new cancer cases. With around 55,900 new breast cancer cases in the UK every year, this translated to more than 150 every day.2

Your breast cancer diagnosis marks the beginning of a journey. You may be filled with emotion, overloaded with information and faced with new everyday challenges and responsibilities. It is a journey that isn’t anticipated, can’t be planned, and is unique to each patient.

As you begin that journey, the most important thing to remember is that you are not alone. Though you did not have a choice in your diagnosis, you do have a choice in how you will face it and the decisions you will make about it. Your treatment choice is an essential part of the journey.

Understanding Genomics and Genomic Testing

A new approach to breast cancer has emerged in the last decade providing us with new hope to better understand the disease and the best treatment options. This approach is known as genomics, the study of sets of genes and how they interact and function in the body.
In breast cancer, genomic tests assess tissue from your breast cancer tumour to identify how genes influence the behaviour of the tumour, including how likely it is to grow and spread. This means that when applied to tumour tissue, genomic tests, can predict how a tumour is likely to respond to treatment and how likely the cancer is to return.

However, not all genomic tests for breast cancer are alike. It is therefore important to understand their specificities and ask the right questions. When assessing treatment options with your doctor one key question is: will I benefit from chemotherapy, a common treatment for breast cancer.

Though lifesaving in some cases, studies have shown that chemotherapy does not always reduce the risk of breast cancer returning in all patients. In fact, only a minority of patients with early-stage, invasive, node-negative breast cancer substantially benefit from chemotherapy3-6. This means that the vast majority of patients could be spared this treatment and its toxic effects. Without the right genomic test, doctors can only estimate how likely a patient’s cancer is to return. By adding the information from a genomic test that is proven to predict chemotherapy benefit, your doctor can more precisely assess how likely your tumour is to respond to a treatment like chemotherapy.

About the Test

The Oncotype DX Breast Recurrence Score® test is a genomic test for women recently diagnosed with invasive, early stage, hormone (oestrogen) receptor-positive (HR+/ER+), human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-negative (HER2-) breast cancer. Specifically, the test can help establish how likely the addition of chemotherapy to hormone therapy will be beneficial to your treatment plan and whether it could reduce the risk of the cancer coming back.3,4,7,8

The Oncotype DX® test analyses the activity of several cancer-related genes in your tumour tissue and because every woman’s tumour is unique, understanding the biology of your specific tumour can help you and your doctor tailor a treatment for your cancer. Find out if you’re eligible for the test.

How the Test Works

A small amount of tumour tissue is taken from a biopsy before or during initial breast cancer surgery. The Oncotype DX test analyses the genes in your tumour. No additional procedure is needed to conduct the Oncotype DX test.

After your tissue has been analysed, you will receive a Recurrence Score® result between 0 and 100. A lower score means it is unlikely that chemotherapy will reduce the risk that your cancer comes back. A higher score means you have a higher chance of benefiting from chemotherapy. Learn more about the test results.

To date, the Oncotype DX test has been used by more than one million patients around the world. Many women who had higher Recurrence Score results were able to choose chemotherapy as a potentially life-saving treatment, to help reduce further the risk of the cancer returning. On the other hand, the women who had lower Recurrence Score results were able to effectively pursue hormonal therapy alone with confidence and avoid the side effects of unnecessary chemotherapy.6-11

Reasons to Get the Test

There are many benefits of the Oncotype DX® test:

  • It provides insight into your tumour biology that is not available from traditional evaluations (the assessment of clinical and pathologic factors). Without the Oncotype DX test, doctors can only estimate how likely a patient’s cancer is to return.
  • The Oncotype DX test provides individualised information about your tumour’s biology and the potential benefit of adding chemotherapy to your treatment plan in order to minimize the risk of your cancer returning.
  • It’s the only test proven to determine the expected response to chemotherapy in early breast cancer. Several studies including more than 85,000 patients have consistently proven that only the Oncotype DX test can predict whether patients will benefit from chemotherapy, or not.3,4,6-11
  • The Oncotype DX test is supported by robust evidence. It has been validated in multiple clinical trials, and more than one million people have used it worldwide. It is recommended by the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and is incorporated in all major internationally accepted clinical practice guidelines for breast cancer treatment.12-17
  • Above all, the Oncotype DX test can help you and your doctor tailor a treatment plan specifically for you.

The goal of any cancer treatment it to remove the tumour and prevent its return. The risks and benefits of all treatments must be weighed. Patients with their clinicians should be encouraged to advocate for the best care possible. The advance in genomic testing can provide added confidence in the decision taken.

Find out more here.

  1. Ahmad AS et al, British Journal of Cancer, 2015
  2. 2016-2018 statistics https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/breast-cancer/about accessed Nov. ’21.
  3. Paik et al. N Engl J Med. 2006.
  4. Albain et al. Lancet Oncol. 2010.
  5. Early Breast Cancer Trialists’ Collaborative Group (EBCTCG) et al. Lancet. 2012.
  6. Sparano et al. N Engl J Med. 2018.
  7. Kalinsky et al. SABCS 2020 Abtract GS3-00
  8. Nitz et al, Breast Cancer Res Treat 2017
  9. Stemmer npj Breast Cancer 2017 3:32 and 3:33
  10. Petkov et al. npj Breast Cancer. 2016.
  11. Roberts et al. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2017
  12. NICE Diagnostics Guidance DG34 December 2018. https://www.nice.org.uk/ (accessed Nov. 2021) All rights reserved. Subject to Notice of rights NICE guidance is prepared for the National Health Service in England. All NICE guidance is subject to regular review and may be updated or withdrawn. NICE accepts no responsibility for the use of its content in this product/publication
  13. NCCN Guidelines Insights: Breast Cancer, version 3.2021.
    https://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/pdf/breast.pdf (accessed Nov. 202)
  14. IQWiG Press Release, September 2018.
  15. Burstein et al. Ann Oncol. 2021.
  16. Andre et al. J Clin Oncol. 2019.
  17. Cardoso et al. Ann Oncol. 2019.
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