Common but unused test can tell breast cancer patients whether or not they should choose to have chemotherapy

Imagine you have just heard the words: “You have breast cancer.”   After you picked yourself up off the proverbial floor, you would be faced with some fairly complex choices to make.  But, depending on the kind of breast cancer you have, what if you could take a test that would give you a very good indication of whether or not chemotherapy would be helpful?

HOLD FOR RELEASE UNTIL 12:01 A.M. EDT ON WEDNESDAY, MAY 8, 2013; THIS STORY MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST OR POSTED ONLINE BEFORE 12:01 A.M. EDT WEDNESDAY - This Aug. 24, 2010 image provided by Genomic Health shows the packaging for their Oncotype DX kit for assessing prostate cancer risk. This kit and another made available in 2012 are intended to gauge the aggressiveness of prostate cancer may help tens of thousands of men each year decide whether they need to treat their cancer right away or can safely monitor it. The Oncotype test is planed to be discussed Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at an American Urological Association conference. (AP Photo/Myriad Genetics)

The test – Oncotype DX – has been available for more than 10 years and is covered by all health plans, Medicare and Medi-Call.

But the truth?  Only about 2 out of 10 women are prescribed the test by their doctors.

In fact, a recent study has found that while Oncotype DX test results strongly influence whether doctors recommend chemotherapy after surgery or not, black women are less likely to receive the test.

That’s not okay with Susan G. Komen. Everyone deserves the same standard of care.


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