Female Cancer Patient - Bald Head

Widely Used Breast Cancer Test Could Be Flawed [Study]

A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology claims that the cancer screening test Oncotype DX does not accurately identify a gene that is critical in determining which type of live-saving cancer treatment to administer.

According to lead researcher Dr. David J. Dabbs, a professor and chief of pathology at Magee-Womens Hospital of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center:

“Women could be getting the completely wrong treatment.”

Women who test positive for the gene are typically given Herceptin (trastuzumab) and other medications to prevent recurrence and possibly even death.

On the flip side of the argument Dr. Lori J. Goldstein, director of the Breast Evaluation Center at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia told Yahoo News:

“…the Oncotype DX test, which actually measures 21 different genes, was not designed to test for HER2, nor is it intended as a substitute for two other widely used and accepted lab tests.

“None of us would request Oncotype for the sole purpose of getting HER2,” she said. “We’re usually ordering it for other reasons and, as part of that test, we get HER2.”

Tests for HER2 exist with both immunohistochemistry (IHC) and fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Speaking to HealthDay, Genomic Health, the company behind Oncotype DX disagreed with the findings, stating that the “conclusions appear to be one-sided.”

Whatever tests are given researchers seem to agree on one important factor, FDA approved tests should be used to screen for breast cancer.

[Image via ShutterStock]