New FDA Breast Cancer Test Approved - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News


New FDA Breast Cancer Test Approved

44 year old Dawn May of Tyler is in the battle of her life. During a monthly self breast exam, she noticed a lump which turned out to be cancerous.

"I started shaking, and I went straight to my church. My preacher was there, and I broke down," says Dawn.

A new, FDA approved test called MammaPrint takes fresh tumor tissue and checks for genes indicating a high risk that the cancer will return. The information helps doctors and patients choose if chemotherapy is needed in addition to surgery, radiation and hormone therapy.

Dr. Sveteslava Vukejla with the Tyler Cancer Center says there are some very practical problems with the new test.

"We don't have it in the USA. It's not available yet. It's FDA approved, but they don't have a laboratory that would be willing to develop the test. It's not practical. The study is only validated or tested on 307 patients, a very small sample. And the test only studied women 60 years of age or less. Most of our patients that we worry about giving chemotherapy to is the older population," says Vukejla.

Dr. Vukelja says another, already existing test called Oncotype DX is far superior and available in East Texas. While it doesn't examine as many of the genes as MammaPrint, she says it examines the most important ones.

For Dawn, the test revealed a recurrence score of 16 which means she has a 10% percent chance of the cancer coming back. It was a small enough percentage that she and Dr. Vukelja decided against chemotherapy.

"It's very empowering because without that information, I probably would have just taken whatever the doctor said. It's nice to have that in black and white to help you make that decision," says Dawn.

Dr. Vukejla says for the time being, she will continue to rely on the already existing test.

The Tyler Cancer Center is hosting the Breast Cancer Community Forum this Friday at 6:00pm. It's being held at the Wisenbaker Conference Center at 800 East Dawson Street.

Lindsay Wilcox/Reporting:

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