Diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer 13 years ago, Susan Bakken had a lumpectomy and a sentinel node biopsy, which thankfully revealed that the cancer hadn’t spread. Although nothing indicated that Susan required any other treatment, she still wanted to have a genomic test– Oncotype DX Breast Recurrence Score–that would predict her risk for distant cancer recurrence, and whether she’d actually benefit from chemotherapy.
Susan had serendipitously heard about the Oncotype DX test through a friend of a friend who knew someone who worked at Genomic Health, the company that created it! Despite the fact that Susan’s mother–herself a breast cancer survivor– couldn’t fathom why her daughter would have such a test, 59-year-old Susan thought “why wouldn’t I?”
The test results revealed that Susan’s cancer would likely return. “I was at high risk for recurrence, so there was no question that I would go through radiation and chemotherapy, the recommended treatment,” Susan said. “I didn’t want the cancer to spread.”
The Oncotype DX Breast Recurrence Score test determines the level of activity, within a tumor sample, of 21 specific genes — 16 genes linked to breast cancer and five control genes. The measurement of these genes is calculated to yield an individualized result called a Recurrence Score, which correlates with the likelihood that a woman’s breast cancer will return (distant recurrence), and also predicts whether she is likely to benefit from chemotherapy. The higher the Recurrence Score, the greater the chances that breast cancer will return, and the more likely she is to benefit from chemotherapy. (more…)