Living with breast cancer is challenging for millions of women today. Some new ways of evaluating breast cancer will help doctors make decisions about the use of chemotherapy and help indicate the likelihood that breast cancer will recur.
With any cancer, the tumor cells divide uncontrollably. Cancer cells can then invade nearby tissues and spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic system to other parts of the body (called metastasizing). To kill cancer cells, doctors have routinely given patients with breast cancer the standard prescription: tumor removal via mastectomy or sometimes lumpectomy, usually followed by radiation and chemotherapy.
Until now, doctors have not been able to tell which women are at higher risk for breast cancer recurrence. As we've learned more about breast cancer, researchers now understand more about the extent of the disease and other biological features of the cancerous tissue.
Researchers realize that not all breast cancers should be treated the same. Through findings from breast cancer clinical trials, scientists are discovering they can do a risk analysis of each woman's particular cancer and then base their treatment upon a prediction of the response to therapy and the estimated risk of the breast cancer coming back.
Treatment of breast cancer is based on treatment of local disease with surgery, radiation, or both and the treatment of disease that may have spread. This treatment includes chemotherapy, hormonal or endocrine treatments, and biological therapy alone or in combination.
Using a tool called the Recurrence Score, scientists are learning to quantify the likelihood of breast cancer recurrence in women with early-stage, node-negative, estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) breast cancer and also predict response to endocrine and chemotherapy . While chemotherapy is necessary for some types of breast cancer, it may not be necessary for other types. And that's where the Oncotype DX test comes into play.