Study shows half of early-stage breast cancer patients may be able to avoid chemotherapy

MammaPrint helps women and their doctors plan

NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. - Jennifer Peters is a few months out of her fourth surgery for breast cancer.  "I feel great," she said.  "I feel great."

Great, she says, because she was able to avoid chemotherapy.  "I learned about the MammaPrint test right before my surgery, because my surgeon said 'We're going to put a port in you, and give you six months of chemo,' which petrified me."

But oncologist Dr. David Wenk said ‘wait a minute.'  He wanted Jennifer, who had early-stage breast cancer, to take a gene test first.

"So the MammaPrint is a test that looks at 70 genes.  These genes are shown to have an association with breast cancer reoccurrence."

Jennifer's results showed her risk of reoccurrence was low.  "He asked me what I wanted to do.  I said I'll take the chemo if I need to, but I'd prefer not to, if I can.  He said based on the test results that have come back, I don't think this calls for it."

Dr. Wenk says a recent study published in The International Journal of Cancer proves the MammaPrint's effectiveness. "There was a recent study published last month which looked at patients that scored low risk on the MammaPrint.  And those patients that did not receive chemotherapy did phenomenally well. At five years out they had a survivor rate of 97 percent. So again, it's showing we can leave out chemotherapy in a low risk population and be confident these patients are going to do very, very well."

The MammaPrint costs about $4,000 but Dr. Wenk says most insurance companies and Medicare will cover the cost of the test.

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