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Test that Could Prevent Thousands of Women Undergoing Unnecessary Chemotherapy

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A new £200 test could prevent huge numbers of women experiencing unnecessary chemotherapy by predicting whether their specific breast cancer could return post surgery.

Developed in Britain, the test will make use of technology widely used throughout NHS labs already, testing the recurrence chance of oestrogen positive (ER+) type breast cancer.

Currently, women diagnosed with ER+ type breast cancer will undergo surgery to remove the tumour before being treated with a hormone therapy in an attempt to combat remaining residual cancer. Hormone therapy also reduces the risk of recurrence.

Having assessed the tumour, a decision can be made whether a course of chemotherapy would be successful in around 25,000 cases. However a further 12,000 women may receive chemotherapy simply as a precaution

These women will be the ones who benefit from the test as Professor Dowsett, publisher of the research, explains, “It will allow us to say about a third of the 12,000 probably do need chemo and about a third probably don’t.”

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) will meet in November to decide discuss the new test. Clinicians hope, due to the fact that it could improve a patients treatment experience, and save the NHS up to £1,500 a time, that the test will be approved.

Professor Jack Cuzick, co-author of the research, concluded that the new test, “has the potential to be a key component in the battle against breast cancer.”

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