Researchers in Germany have shown that a multigene test can identify breast cancer patients who do not need chemotherapy and who have a good chance of surviving five years after diagnosis.
The research was carried out by the West German Study Group, based in Mönchengladbach, Germany. The 21-gene Recurrence Score (RS) test takes about 8–10 days to complete with the tumour tissue being sent to a central laboratory for analysis.
The trial, with nearly 3,200 participants with an average age of 56, was the first study of its kind in the world using the 21-gene RS to report five-year survival data in patients with node-negative or node-positive early breast cancer (cancer that has not spread to the lymph nodes, or has spread to between 1–3 nodes), and who have hormone-receptor positive (HR+) or HER2-negative disease (where cancer cells do not have high numbers of human epidermal growth factor receptors on their surfaces, meaning they will be unresponsive).
94% of the patients, who were identified as low risk and who were treated with anti-hormonal therapy alone, were still alive and disease-free after five years. Among the intermediate-risk patients who underwent chemotherapy, five-year disease-free survival was also 94%. 84% of the high-risk patients (RS of more than 25) who had also received chemotherapy, also survived five years.