Many Breast Cancer Patients May Not Be Receiving Recommended Test

By Robin Hindery, UCSF Science Cafe | October 15, 2009

For more than a decade, doctors have had access to a simple genetic test that can help determine the best course of treatment for patients with breast cancer.

However, a new UCSF-led report reveals that as many as two-thirds of women with invasive breast cancer had no documentation of having received this test. In addition, one in five tests performed in local labs proved inaccurate when the same tissue was retested in larger labs.

The report, published in September in the journal Cancer, stemmed from the increasing use of patient-specific, targeted therapies for cancer treatment and prevention, said lead author Kathryn Phillips, PhD, the founder, director and principal investigator of UCSF's Center for Translational and Policy Research on Personalized Medicine (TRANSPERS).

"Once these therapies, and the tests associated with them, receive FDA approval or begin to be adopted, it is important to understand whether they are used effectively and efficiently in routine clinical practice," said Phillips, a UCSF professor of clinical pharmacy.

Phillips and her fellow researchers chose to focus specifically on HER2, a protein that is widely recognized as an important predictive factor in breast cancer.

Read more at Robin Hindery, UCSF Science Cafe