Test spared 50% of patients chemo

Linda Hannan had just come home from holidays with her family when she felt a little uncomfortable in her left breast.

“It was a bit sore but it wasn’t even a lump — more like a pinch — and I thought at first it might just have been a bit of pressure from the wire in my bra,” she said

Ms Hannan, 51, from Celbridge, Co Kildare said: “If it wasn’t for my wonderful husband, I probably would have left it because it was tiny — smaller than a fingernail.”

Her consultant was Jenny Westrup in UPMC Beacon Hospital in Dublin and when the diagnosis revealed early stage breast cancer, she was offered a genetic test to determine the likely recurrence of the cancer after surgery. The Oncotype DX test identifies whether or not a patient will need chemotherapy after surgery.

“The waiting period before the result was probably toughest in case chemotherapy was necessary,” said Ms Hannan. “Karl and I both cried with delight when we heard I didn’t need chemotherapy.

“It was like winning the Lotto and we went out to celebrate that night. It was the best present I ever got.”

Three years on, Linda is savouring life with her husband and two boys, James, 21 and Bill, 14.

The HSE approved the Oncotype DX breast cancer analysis in Oct 2011, making it one of the first countries to do so. It was announced yesterday that Ireland is the first country where all private and public patients have access to this test.

Initial estimates suggest that at least 50% of women tested nationally have avoided the need for chemotherapy. The availability of the test also saved the HSE an estimated €856,440.

This success was presented last week at the 13th St Gallen International Breast Cancer Conference in Switzerland, along with 21 other studies.


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