Medical City Dallas Hospital breast surgeon Dr. Peter Beitsch helped lead a recent study revealing that advanced genomic tests are the best course of action for determining if cancer patients will be responsive to chemotherapy prior to surgery. Dr. Beitsch’s role was to conduct Medical City Dallas’ participation in the study, the findings of which were presented at this year’s San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, which this year has produced a flurry of new research findings and insights. In total, the study has reported on 191 breast cancer patients between the ages of 22 and 82, offering a wide-ranging look at the connection between genomic tests and chemotherapy.
In particular, the study tested two prominent genomic tests – MammaPrint and BluePrint – in order to ascertain if these tests indeed can offer better information about the molecular subtype of a woman’s breast cancer. The conclusion of the study revealed that, “when patients’ tumors were analyzed with these tests, 24% of the tumors were reclassified to a more accurate type when compared to traditional lab tests,” according to a recent press release.
Dr. Beitsch characterized the findings are significant, that they could improve the treatment approach for breast cancer: “These results should be encouraging to patients and their physicians. Physicians are now better able to determine whether a woman has the type of cancer that will respond to chemotherapy, or whether she can safely be treated with surgery and hormonal treatment alone.”
In point of fact, genetic tests, such as the now-popular BRCA test that made headlines by actress Angelina Jolie, while effective in determining a woman’s susceptibility for developing breast cancer, are proving to be ineffective compared to genomic tests such as MammaPrint and BluePrint for understanding the functionality of breast cancer in patients who already have the disease. The result, according to Dr. Beitsch, can lead to over treatment with chemotherapy, and dangerous under-treatment in other patients.
“Chemotherapy is a powerful but sometimes debilitating course of treatment. This technology assists physicians as they determine whether the side effects endured by the patient are worth the additional benefit gained by chemotherapy,” said Dr. Beitsch. “As a result, we can better position our patients to overcome their disease, and achieve a better quality of life during treatment.”
Photo from wikipedia.org