What is the Oncotype DX® test for Breast Cancer?

Overview

The Oncotype DX test is a diagnostic test that can help women with some types of breast cancer learn more about the biological activity of their specific tumor. Along with other pieces of information, the results from the Oncotype DX test can help women and their doctors make decisions about whether or not to include chemotherapy in their treatment plan. It can also help indicate how likely it is that a woman’s cancer may return in the future (distant recurrence).

The Oncotype DX test looks at a group of 21 genes within a woman’s tumor sample—16 cancer genes and 5 control genes—to see how they are expressed, or how active they are. The results of the test are reported as a quantitative Recurrence Score® result, which is a score between 0 and 100 that correlates with the likelihood of a woman’s chances of having her cancer return, and the likelihood that she will benefit from adding chemotherapy to her hormonal therapy.

The Oncotype DX test provides information in addition to standard measurements (such as tumor size, tumor grade and lymph node status) that doctors have traditionally used to estimate how likely a woman’s cancer is to return, and to help her make treatment decisions.

The Oncotype DX test is the only test of its kind incorporated in certain circumstances in both the American Society of Clinical Oncology® (ASCO®) and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®) treatment guidelines. These guidelines are developed by medical experts to help doctors give their patients the best possible care. The Oncotype DX test has been ordered by over 10,000 doctors in over 55 countries for more than 175,000 patients (as of September 2010). In most cases, insurance covers the cost of the test.

For more information on the ASCO guidelines, click here.
For more information on the NCCN guidelines, click here.

When Should the Oncotype DX Test Be Used?

The Oncotype DX test should be performed after surgery (lumpectomy or mastectomy), but before you and your doctor make a final decision regarding adjuvant treatment (see figure below).

The Oncotype DX test is a non-invasive test that is performed on a small amount of the tissue removed during your original surgery (lumpectomy, mastectomy or core biopsy). This means you should not have to undergo any additional invasive procedures for the test to be performed.

After your surgical procedure, a tissue sample is preserved for further diagnostic testing. If the Oncotype DX test is ordered, the pathologist will send several thin sections of the preserved tumor tissue sample to Genomic Health. The Oncotype DX test results are then integrated with other laboratory test results to help you and your doctor formulate a treatment plan based on the unique characteristics of your tumor.



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