A simple and cheap blood test that can predict which women with the most common type of breast cancer are at risk of the disease returning.
The test, developed by scientists from The Institute of Cancer Research and Queen Mary, University of London, has helped identify which of the 37,000 women diagnosed with ER positive breast cancer each year are at risk of the disease returning.
Professor Dowsett, the co-leader of the study, and his team used a pool of over 1,800 samples collected from the TransATAC clinical trial to compare the new method with the established technology.
Once they had concluded that the IHC4 test was just as effective in identifying high and low risk women, they rolled out the comparison to another group of patients in Nottingham and reproduced the same findings.
The findings, which have been published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, show that measuring the levels of four proteins – ER, PR, HER2 and Ki67 – is just as effective at predicting high and low-risk women as the successful but expensive test currently used, the American Oncotype DX.
“This is excellent news for women who are diagnosed with ER positive breast cancer,” the Daily Express quoted Professor Mitch Dowsett, study co-leader, as saying.
“It is a major step towards more personalised and targeted treatment of breast cancer, which will mean that women can avoid unnecessary chemotherapy and its toxic side-effects.
“Oncotype DX is a valuable method of identifying patients whose breast cancer could re-occur but most cancer specialists do not have the money available to use it,” he added.
It is hoped that the new IHC4 test will cost around 250 pounds and could be carried out in the UK using equipment already available in many laboratories.