Genetic test approved for use on NHS could save thousands of women from chemotherapy every year

Treatment could benefit those with early-stage breast cancer facing the intensive treatment

Thousands of women with breast cancer could be spared chemotherapy every year thanks to a test which has been approved for use on the NHS.

The genetic test could benefit those with early-stage breast cancer facing the intensive treatment, whose side effects include nausea, vomiting, insomnia, hair loss and fatigue.

Studies have suggested that half of women with the most common form of early breast cancer could be spared chemotherapy if they have the test.

The Oncotype DX test involves the examination of genes taken from a sample of a tumour removed during surgery.

It can help doctors decide whether chemotherapy would actually benefit patients and the risk of cancer returning.

Almost 50,000 people are diagnosed with breast cancer every year in the UK and most of these have early-stage disease.

Doctors will use the test in combination with other information, such as the size and grade of the tumour, to work out if chemotherapy could be beneficial.

Current evidence suggests some people are over or under-treated because of uncertainties about whether their cancer will actually spread.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) has approved the Oncotype DX test for people with oestrogen receptor positive (ER+), lymph node negative (LN-) and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 negative (HER2-) early breast cancer who are at intermediate risk of the cancer spreading.

Professor Carole Longson, Nice health technology evaluation centre director, said: "Breast cancer patients face significant emotional and psychological strain when considering chemotherapy.

"A test that can help to predict better the risk of the breast cancer spreading, and therefore the potential likely benefit of additional chemotherapy, represents a significant step forward for patients."

Some 15 studies on more than 6,000 patients worldwide have taken place using Oncotype DX, showing that around one third of treatment plans are changed as a result of the test.

A 2011 UK study on Oncotype DX found that 46% of patients with early stage disease could be spared unnecessary chemotherapy.

The research was carried out by Simon Holt, a breast surgeon at the Hywel Dda Local Health Board in Wales, on 142 NHS patients with oestrogen receptor positive breast cancer, the most common type.

Commenting on the Nice announcement, Kathi Apostolidis, vice president of the European Cancer Patient Coalition based in Brussels, said: "The decision of whether or not to undergo chemotherapy is an extremely important and difficult one for patients, not only due to the many side effects associated with treatment, but also due to the hardship for the patient and her family and the loss of income due to days off work.

"Allowing patients and their physicians to make more personalised treatment decisions can help improve outcomes for the rising number of early-stage breast cancer patients in Europe."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Property
pets
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
News
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Sport
football
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
News
news
News
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
news
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living