December 7, 2011- Unnecessary radiation could be prevented for many women by a new gene test for those with a breast tumor that is very common. A new study was released in a breast cancer symposium in San Antonio.
The genomic test is a possible way for women to realize what their actual risk factor is. The test does an analysis of 12 genes in the women’s tumor. This analysis helps to predict whether the cancer will be aggressive meaning surgery and then radiation will be required or slower, which would just require surgery.
Genomic Health produces the test. Its goal is to aid over 45,000 women who annually are diagnosed in the United States with DCIS – ductal carcinoma in situ. Many doctors regard these tumors as early cancers but other experts say they are pre-cancers. The tumors are confined to the area of the milk ducts, but could invade other parts of the breast.
Until the new test came along, doctors did not have a good method of determining which DCIS cases were more apt to spread. Many times, women with DCIS are treated as if it were an advanced cancer and receive a lumpectomy followed by radiation and then often times many years of hormonal therapy. With DCIS, radiation will reduce the risk of possibly developing another tumor but does not affect the survival rate.
The study showed about 75% of the women were in a low risk group following their genomic test and after ten years just 5% in that group developed invasive cancer.