Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Biomolecular Screening
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

New Breast Cancer Test will Help More Women Avoid Unnecessary Chemotherapy

Published: Friday, July 05, 2013
Last Updated: Friday, July 05, 2013
Bookmark and Share
A new genetic test will help doctors better identify those women who should be considered for chemotherapy, and those who can avoid it.

A team at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and Queen Mary University of London found that the test - called PAM50 - produced better long-term information than current methods for determining if a patient’s breast cancer would return.

The test, which can be processed locally instead of being sent off to an American lab, indentifies more women with the highest risk of their breast cancer returning, with fewer women classed as at intermediate risk.

The new test could therefore help doctors identify with greater certainty the women who will have the most potential of benefitting from chemotherapy, while letting others avoid unnecessary treatment.

The research, published today (Monday) in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, was funded by Breakthrough Breast Cancer, AstraZeneca and the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at The Royal Marsden, with additional support from Cancer Research UK.

Breast cancer is diagnosed in 50,000 women every year, with 80% of cases caused by oestrogen receptor positive (ER+) disease. Women with this type of breast cancer can be treated with hormone therapy, but for some women, the risk of their breast cancer coming back within 10 years means they are also given chemotherapy.

Currently, a test called Oncotype DX (1) can assess the likelihood of a patient’s breast cancer returning, but the test costs more than £2,000 per patient to be administered privately and samples must be sent abroad to be processed. The current test also identifies a large portion of women as having ‘intermediate risk’, making a doctor’s decision of whether chemotherapy will help more difficult.

In this study, scientists assessed RNA in tissue samples taken from 940 patients with ER+ breast cancer and compared the new PAM50 score, which analyses 50 genes linked with breast cancer, with the Oncotype DX test, and with a test called IHC4, developed by Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

The PAM50 test provided more long-term predictive information for doctors than both the Oncotype DX test and IHC4, while being as effective as other tests in identifying women at low risk of their breast cancer recurring.

Notably, the PAM50 test categorised more patients as having a high risk of their breast cancer returning within 10 years and fewer as intermediate than the other two tests. The researchers said the PAM50 test could therefore be a more cost-effective tool while providing doctors with more relevant information for determining which breast cancer patients will benefit most from chemotherapy.

Professor Mitch Dowsett, Professor of Biochemical Endocrinology at The Institute of Cancer Research and Head of Biochemistry at The Royal Marsden, said: “Chemotherapy is often used after surgery to reduce the risk of a patient’s breast cancer coming back, but the side-effects are significant and some women will not see any benefit. While the current test is useful for both patients and clinicians to help them decide whether chemotherapy is needed, it’s expensive and not available locally.

“Our study found that the PAM50 test is more effective than other methods at providing the information to exclude breast cancer patients from unnecessary chemotherapy, and has the potential to be done more quickly. For each sub-group of breast cancer the PAM50 test added significant information beyond that of the standard clinical treatment score and the Oncotype DX score combined.”

Professor Alan Ashworth, Chief Executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, said: “The great strides that have been made in breast cancer treatment have resulted in a large rise in survival from the disease, but some women receive treatment which can be arduous while receiving no benefit. This test will improve doctors’ knowledge of who might benefit, allowing more women to make better informed decisions on their treatment.”

Breakthrough Breast Cancer’s Director of Research Julia Wilson said: “The PAM50 test has been proven to be an effective way of helping clinicians ensure that women do not have to undergo chemotherapy treatment that will not have any medical benefit, when their risk of cancer recurrence is in fact very low. This will mean that, where appropriate, women will be able to avoid the toxic side effects of chemotherapy.

“We’re aiming to reach a stage where all breast cancer patients receive the  most appropriate treatment for them, and this research from Mitch and his team is an important step in that direction.”

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,600+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,800+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Nuevolution Enter Drug Discovery Collaboration with ICR and CRT
International deal to screen potential cancer drugs using DNA ‘barcodes’.
Thursday, January 23, 2014
Scientific News
Promising Drug Candidate to Treat Chronic Itch
In a new study, scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) describe a class of compounds with the potential to stop chronic itch without the adverse side effects normally associated with medicating the condition.
Are Changes to Current Colorectal Cancer Screening Guidelines Required?
Editorial suggests more research is needed to pinpoint age to end aggressive screening.
Assessing Cancer Patient Survival and Drug Sensitivity
RNA editing events another way to investigate biomarkers and therapy targets.
New Molecular Marker for Killer Cells
Cell marker enables prognosis about the course of infections.
Potential Target for Treatment of Autism
Grant of $2.4 million will support further research.
Sniffing Out Cancer
Scientists have been exploring new ways to “smell” signs of cancer by analyzing what’s in patients’ breath.
Inroads Against Leukaemia
Potential for halting disease in molecule isolated from sea sponges.
Molecular ‘Kiss Of Death’ Flags Pathogens For Destruction
Researchers have discovered that our bodies mark pathogen-containing vacuoles for destruction by using a molecule called ubiquitin, commonly known as the "kiss of death."
A New Single-Molecule Tool to Observe Enzymes at Work
A team of scientists at the University of Washington and the biotechnology company Illumina have created an innovative tool to directly detect the delicate, single-molecule interactions between DNA and enzymatic proteins.
Milestone Single-Biomolecule Imaging Technique May Advance Drug Design
The first nanometer resolved image of individual tobacco mosaic virions shows the potential of low-energy electron holography for imaging biomolecules at a single particle level; a milestone in structural biology and a potential new tool for drug design.

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,600+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,800+ scientific videos