Vishal Gulati

Another Gene Test, Another Step Forward for Precision Medicine

September 28, 2015

A test developed by Genomic Health is able to predict risk of bad outcomes if you have early stage breast cancer. Currently, most patients get surgery followed by chemotherapy and/or hormone blocking drugs (nasty side effects) even though it is known that very few will progress to recurrence because like most of current medical practice we are good at knowing that some things will happen to a small number of people but don’t know which will be the unlucky ones. As a result a lot of medicine is ‘one size fits all’ i.e. crappy off the peg suit instead of one made just for you in Saville Row.

As a demonstrator of what the future could look like this genetic test shows how we could indeed use genetic testing to usher in the era of Precision Medicine. But here is a thing. It is neither easy nor cheap… This test has been validated in a study in which 10,253 women participated. It is hard, it is gonna cost money, it is going to take time….naysayers be damned, I say bring it on!!


Gene test finds which breast cancer patients can skip chemo Many women with early-stage breast cancer can skip chemotherapy without hurting their odds of beating the disease — good news from a major study that shows the value of a gene-activity test to gauge each patient’s risk. The test accurately identified a group of women whose cancers are so likely to respond to hormone-blocking drugs that adding chemo would do little if any good while exposing them to side effects and other health risks. The study involved the most common type of breast cancer — early stage, without spread to lymph nodes; hormone-positive, meaning the tumor’s growth is fueled by estrogen or progesterone; and not the type that the drug Herceptin targets. […] many women also are urged to have chemo, to help kill any stray cancer cells that may have spread beyond the breast and could seed a new cancer later. The test measures the activity of genes that control cell growth, and others that indicate a likely response to hormone therapy treatment. Mary Lou Smith, a breast cancer survivor and advocate who helped design the trial for ECOG, the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group, which ran it, said she thought women “would be thrilled” to skip chemo.

Source: Gene test finds which breast cancer patients can skip chemo – SFGate