Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Communities
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 2,800+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 4,000+ 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

Detecting When Hormone Treatment for Breast Cancer Stops Working
Scientists have developed a highly sensitive blood test that can spot when breast cancers become resistant to standard hormone treatment, and have demonstrated that this test could guide further treatment.
Thursday, November 12, 2015
Blood Test Picks Out Prostate Cancer Drug Resistance
Scientists have developed a blood test that can identify key mutations driving resistance to a widely used prostate cancer drug, and identify in advance patients who will not respond to treatment.
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Advancing Cancer Drug Design with Image of Key Protein
Scientists have pioneered the use of a high-powered imaging technique to picture in exquisite detail one of the central proteins of life – a cellular recycling unit with a role in many diseases.
Monday, July 06, 2015
Major Study Links Gene to Drug Resistance in Testicular Cancer
Researchers used a genetic technique called whole-exome sequencing to examine tumour samples.
Friday, January 23, 2015
Nuevolution Enter Drug Discovery Collaboration with ICR and CRT
International deal to screen potential cancer drugs using DNA ‘barcodes’.
Thursday, January 23, 2014
Study of 'Sister' Stem Cells Uncovers New Cancer Clue
Scientists have used a brand new technique for examining individual stem cells to uncover dramatic differences in the gene expression levels between apparently identical ‘sister’ pairs.
Monday, September 30, 2013
Researchers Say Studying the Caterpillar May Help us Understand Cancer
How researchers are beginning to exploit the mysterious phenomenon of epigenetics.
Friday, July 05, 2013
Next-Generation “Epigenetic” Cancer Pill Shown to be Safe
Scientists have shown that a brand new type of cancer pill that exploits the emerging field of epigenetics is safe for human use, according to a Phase I trial reported today in Clinical Cancer Research.
Wednesday, May 02, 2012
Scientific News
High Throughput Mass Spectrometry-Based Screening Assay Trends
Dr John Comley provides an insight into HT MS-based screening with a focus on future user requirements and preferences.
How a Genetic Locus Protects Adult Blood-Forming Stem Cells
Mammalian imprinted Gtl2 protects adult hematopoietic stem cells by restricting metabolic activity in the cells' mitochondria.
Genetic Basis of Fatal Flu Side Effect Discovered
A group of people with fatal H1N1 flu died after their viral infections triggered a deadly hyperinflammatory disorder in susceptible individuals with gene mutations linked to the overactive immune response, according to a recent study.
New Tech Vastly Improves CRISPR/Cas9 Accuracy
A new CRISPR/Cas9 technology developed by scientists at UMass Medical School is precise enough to surgically edit DNA at nearly any genomic location, while avoiding potentially harmful off-target changes typically seen in standard CRISPR gene editing techniques.
The MaxSignal Colistin ELISA Test Kit from Bioo Scientific
Kit can help prevent the antibiotic apocalypse by keeping last resort drugs out of the food supply.
"Good" Mozzie Virus Might Hold Key to Fighting Human Disease
Australian scientists have discovered a new virus carried by one of the country’s most common pest mosquitoes.
Non-Disease Proteins Kill Brain Cells
Scientists at the forefront of cutting-edge research into neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s have shown that the mere presence of protein aggregates may be as important as their form and identity in inducing cell death in brain tissue.
Closing the Loop on an HIV Escape Mechanism
Research team finds that protein motions regulate virus infectivity.
New Class of RNA Tumor Suppressors Identified
Two short, “housekeeping” RNA molecules block cancer growth by binding to an important cancer-associated protein called KRAS. More than a quarter of all human cancers are missing these RNAs.
Potential Treatment for Life-Threatening Viral Infections Revealed
The findings point to new therapies for Dengue, West Nile and Ebola.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

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
2,800+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,000+ scientific videos