FDA Approves New Test For Breast Cancer Recurrence

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a new genetic test designed to help doctors decide on the likelihood that breast cancer will recur within five to 10 years after treatment. 

Eye on Health spoke with a local cancer specialist about the so-called MammaPrint test.

The MammaPrint test can help doctors decide if a woman needs chemotherapy after initial treatment for early stage breast cancer.  

Las Vegas oncologist, Ann Wierman, said the test uses the latest in molecular technology to study genetic patterns.

"They have a new way of sending fresh tumor into the laboratory and analyzing it for 70 different genes. And with this microscopic testing, it's called a microarray testing of tumor, they can predict if you need chemotherapy to prevent a recurrence or if you really don't need chemotherapy," said Dr. Wierman.

Despite the high-tech nature of the test, Dr. Wierman said it should not be the only indicator of whether or not a patient should have chemotherapy to prevent a recurrence.  

"You may have individual risk factors that may not be reflected in the genes. And that's why a careful discussion between you, your oncologist, your radiation therapist, and your surgeon are very important to have the team approach. Because you really want to individualize your care," said Dr. Wierman.

A fresh slice of tumor is required for the test, so arrangements have to be made in advance of surgery. 

The MammaPrint test costs about $3,000.


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