Genetic test for giving chemo?

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Question from MaryR: Regarding the new genetic test that will help predict whether cancer will recur and whether chemotherapy should be given: Is there any reason for someone who has been through chemo [1.2 tumor, node negative, ER+], 4 rounds of AC, and is on tamoxifen to be tested under the theory that if the test indicates higher probability of recurrence, additional chemo [Taxol, etc.] should be administered?
Answers - Jennifer Griggs, M.D., M.P.H.

This is one of the most exciting and hottest areas in breast cancer care. It will be wonderful to know who really does and does not need chemotherapy. It is probably premature to say that these genetic tests will help us pick the best chemotherapy. Most promising with this technology is the thought that we can avoid chemotherapy altogether in women who don't need it. I would not recommend at this point that your tumor be tested for the genetic profile, particularly as you have completed very good chemotherapy.

Marisa Weiss, M.D. This new test was just FDA-approved. It looks at many different genes together to look at the pattern of which ones are normal and abnormal. It tries to get a "big picture" of which cancers are favorable and which ones are more likely to act in an aggressive manner. All of us are watching this new test closely. As soon as more solid information is available, we will let you know.

Editor's note: Since this research was published, new genomic tests have come to market. For the most up-to-date information, visit the Breast Cancer Tests page.

The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Chemotherapy Updates featured Jennifer Griggs, M.D., M.P.H. and Marisa Weiss, M.D. answering your questions about advances in chemotherapy treatment: different types of drugs and regimens, how to reduce or eliminate unpleasant side effects, and more.

Editor's Note: This conference took place in February 2002.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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