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MamaPrint Says: Some Breast Cancer Patients May Not Need To Undergo Painful Chemotherapy

Update Date: Apr 20, 2016 04:20 AM EDT

A clinical trial stated that some breast cancer patients do not need chemotherapy. A genetic test learned that almost half of the breast cancer patients who are scheduled for chemotherapy did not really have to undergo the painful therapy.

MamaPrint determines if a breast cancer patient does not need chemotherapy after a surgery that removes the tumor, Philly reported.

The test is accurate as the patient who got a score recommending against chemotherapy has 95 percent survival rate, according to Laura van 't Veer, the test's inventor.

"That's very high, and we showed that it doesn't differ between those who are treated and those who are not treated with chemotherapy," said van 't Veer, leader of the breast oncology program at the University of California, San Francisco Diller Family Cancer Center.

The clinical trial was done to nearly 6,700 women from 111 medical centers in nine countries. It "represents what we in medicine call the highest level of evidence," said the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) president, Dr. Jose Baselga. He is also the chief medical officer of Memorial Hospital at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, in New York City.

The study clearly shows that women can be spared from chemotherapy, Baselga added. Before, doctors have to guess whether a breast cancer patient has to undergo chemotherapy by examining its cells under a microscope, measuring the tumor and using genetic testing to see how the tumor would respond to hormone therapy.

The MamaPrint test analyzes a panel of 70 genes in the tumor to assess its aggressiveness and the chance that it may come back without chemotherapy, said van 't Veer.

"Our test looks under the hood, at the engine of the tumor," she said. "The biology tells more about the tumor than simply examining its size because you're really looking into the tumor."

According to Medscape, the results from this test have been anticipated since 2007 when the trial began. The test is called Microarray for Node-Negative Disease May Avoid Chemotherapy Trial or MINDACT.

MamaPrint costs $53 million (€47 million) and the funding was provided by the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) Charitable Trust.

"The MINDACT trial results provide level 1A evidence that using MammaPrint could change clinical practice by substantially de-escalating the use of adjuvant chemotherapy and sparing many patients an aggressive treatment they will not benefit from," said principal investigator and head of the Department of Medicine at the Jules Bordet Institute in Brussels, and co-founder and chair of the Breast International Group (BIG), Martine Piccart, MD, PhD.

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