Breast Cancer

FAQs and Useful Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Oncotype DX breast cancer test?

The Oncotype DX breast cancer test can help breast cancer patients and their doctors* make a more informed, personalised treatment plan. The test looks at the expression of cancer related genes within a patient's tumour sample and provides a numerical result that indicates the possibility of the cancer returning. In addition, the Oncotype DX breast cancer test provides information about how much benefit a patient is likely to get from chemotherapy (commonly used drugs for early-stage breast cancer) in addition to hormone therapy.

Get additional information about the Oncotype DX Breast Cancer Assay.

*breast surgeon or oncologist

Who is Eligible?

You may be a candidate for the Oncotype DX test if you are medically eligible for chemotherapy and:

  • You have been recently diagnosed with anatomic stage I,II or IIIa invasive breast cancer.
  • Your breast cancer is estrogen-receptor positive (ER+)
  • Human Epidermal growth factor Receptor-negative (HER2-)

If you are uncertain whether or not you are a candidate for the Breast Recurrence Score, ask your doctor.

For more information, please visit our eligibility section.

What differentiates the different stages of breast cancer?

Consult your breast surgeon or oncologist and http://www.breastcancercare.org.uk/breast-cancer-information.

What does it mean to be ER+?

ER+ stands for oestrogen receptor positive. Oestrogen is one of many hormones in your body; it has many roles, some of which include triggering development of female characteristics and facilitating the reproductive process. Some cells in your breasts contain oestrogen receptors, which are activated by oestrogen. If the cancer cells in your breast have oestrogen receptors, it is classified as "ER+." Likewise, if they do not, the cancer would be classified as "ER-." Patients with ER+ breast cancer may qualify for the Oncotype DX breast cancer test. Studies have shown patients who are ER+ are typically responsive to hormonal therapy, but only a doctor can advise what therapy is appropriate in the case of a particular tumour.

What does HER2 mean?

HER2 is a gene responsible for certain cancers. HER2 stands for Human Epidermal growth factor Receptor 2. If your breast cancer is tested for HER2 status, the results will be given as positive or negative. If your results are HER2 positive, you may be a candidate for anti-HER2 directed therapy, but only a doctor can advise you about the appropriate treatment.

Only patients with HER2-negative breast cancer qualify for the Oncotype DX breast cancer test.

What does lymph node negative mean?

You have many lymph nodes in your body. These are small organs which help remove unwanted particles such as bacteria and viruses from your body. If your tumour has not spread to nearby lymph nodes, your cancer will be classified as "lymph node negative (N-)." If the cancer has been found in the lymph nodes, the cancer will be classified as "lymph node positive (N+)."

Patients with N- breast cancer may be eligible for the Oncotype DX breast cancer test. Patients with N+, oestrogen-receptor-positive (ER+) breast cancer may also be eligible for the test.

Is the Oncotype DX assay incorporated in guidelines?

The UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommended the Oncotype DX assay for use in clinical practice to guide adjuvant chemotherapy treatment decisions for certain patients with early-stage breast cancer, including micrometastatic disease. Access this guidance here. ASCO® (American Society of Clinical Oncology®), NCCN® (National Comprehensive Cancer Network®), ESMO (European Society for Medical Oncology)* and St. Gallen Guidelines have incorporated the Oncotype DX assay in their guidelines as an option to help doctors determine whether patients with node-negative, oestrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer may benefit from chemotherapy.

Is the Oncotype DX assay currently available in the UK and Ireland?

The assay is reimbursed and widely available to patients across the UK and Ireland.

Is the Oncotype DX assay covered by health insurance companies in the UK and Ireland?

All the major UK and Ireland private insurance companies now cover the cost of the assay on a case by case basis. A pre-authorisation and policy number are both required before results are released.

Patient Resources

Breastcancer.org
Breastcancer.org is one of the premiere advocacy groups and websites for patients with breast cancer. The website reaches more than 20 million users each year, and in addition to robust information about a breast cancer diagnosis, treatment options and support – they also have more than 81 online forums where breast cancer patients share information, personal stories and words of hope with each other.

Breast Cancer Care
Breast Cancer Care is the only UK-wide charity dedicated to providing emotional and practical support for anyone affected by breast cancer. Their free helpline, information-packed website and online forums offer a friendly ear and expert advice to those dealing with this life-threatening disease. Across the UK they offer a range of confidential, face-to-face services for people living with and beyond breast cancer. They campaign for better support and care and promote the importance of early detection, involving people with breast cancer in all that they do.

Breast Cancer Now
Breast Cancer Now is the UK’s largest breast cancer charity, created by the merger of Breast Cancer Campaign and Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

Cancer Research UK
Cancer Research UK is dedicated to saving lives from cancer, by funding world-class research, providing information for patients, health professionals and the public, and influencing public policy to keep cancer at the top of the health agenda. CancerHelp UK is the patient information website of Cancer Research UK.

Macmillan Cancer Support
Macmillan Cancer Support provides practical, medical and financial support and push for better cancer care. They provide quality assured cancer information, written by specialists for people affected by cancer. All booklets are free.

Maggie’s Centres
Maggie’s is an organisation that creates places providing the emotional, practical and social support that people with cancer need. The Centres combine striking buildings, calming spaces, professional experts offering professional support, and the ability to talk with people who have been through similar experiences.

The Haven
The Haven provides, free of charge, a wide range of therapies which help people deal with the physical and emotional side effects of breast cancer. Their specialist nurses and experts in nutrition, exercise, emotional support and complementary therapies provide tailor-made programmes for those affected by breast cancer.  

American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and ASCO are registered trademarks of ASCO; National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) and NCCN are registered trademarks of NCCN. ESMO is a trademark of the European Society for Medical Oncology. ASCO, NCCN, ESMO, St Gallen International Consensus panel and NICE do not endorse any product or therapy.

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