Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Oncotype DX test minimal help for hormone-receptor-negative

The Oncotype DX test can predict the likelihood of recurrence in early stage invasive breast cancer, but it has one flaw: It works with hormone-positive cancers, not hormone-negative. Once again we’re the wallflowers at the breast cancer prom, with the docs dancing with the girls with the popular cancer.

Still, the test might be worth asking for (check to see if your insurance covers it first) because it will include your estrogen (ER) and progesterone (PR) receptor status. This is factored into the likely rate of recurrence and is used to determine the potential benefit of chemotherapy and tamoxifen.

A sample test nicely demonstrates how pathologists define ER and PR scores. The higher you are in the positive range, the more you will benefit from tamoxifen. I did not have a graph like this to clarify my readings. I just got a generic “ER-negative; PR weakly positive” statement. When I finally came to my senses and realized I needed more data, I called the lab to determine how weakly positive I was. They said they no longer had the sample and had just the information I already had on my pathology report. They gave me their definition of “negative” as being less than 50 percent of the sample. It would have been great to have had the additional data this test provides, even if it could not determine the rate of recurrence of my cancer.

My husband, though, reminds me often: My cancer is not coming back. Period.   


Anonymous said...

Hi - Hopefully you will get this post or get to read it.
SO glad you have a good prognosis as a recepter negative-

When you asked for additional information from Genomics, it appears they didn't have an inventory of the tissues used in your test? Just the path report?

How easy was it to get through to ask for this information and how did you find the contact number?

My curiosity is........where do these tissues go from there? Are they sold to other labs for future research?

Thanks for your comment on this.

Patricia Prijatel said...

Thanks for your comment. I fear I was not as clear as I might have been in my post, however. I got my pathology information from my local lab--not from Genomics. The lab was reluctant to give me information without my doctor's blessing, though, which was unacceptable, as it was my tissue.

You ask a good question about where these samples go. I will try to research this and will post what I find. I know that a lot of the research I have found has used tissues from organizations such as this. Pat