WHAT IS AN ONCOTYPE DX TEST?
The Oncotype DX test is a genetic test that is done to establish a person’s risk of having cancer return in the future. The test is used in people who have cancer of the breast, prostate, and colon. These cancers afflict many people every year; it is often a challenge to treat these conditions and is difficult to know if the cancer is likely to return in the future. This is where the Oncotype DX test comes in handy.
How does the Oncotype DX test work?
The Oncotype DX test examines the genes found in certain cancer cells. The test is done on a sample removed during a biopsy of the affected tissue. A biopsy is when a small piece of tissue is cut out for further testing.
Genetic testing is then done using the cells of the biopsy. The genetic tests use a molecular procedure known as reverse-transcriptase PCR (RT-PCR). The RT-PCR makes DNA from RNA extracted from the cancer cells; this then allows scientists to determine the genes.
A score is derived based on the expression of certain types and numbers of genes known to impact cancer. The number of genes screened for in the test depends on the type of cancer in each case.
The BIRC5 gene
One of the important genes tested for in all the Oncotype DX tests is BIRC5. BIRC5 is associated with several types of cancer. This gene, when expressed in cancer cells, usually means a poor prognosis. This is because BIRC5 encourages cell proliferation, which ultimately leads to tumor growth.
The idea is to generate a score based on BIRC5 and similar genes and then use this score to help predict the likelihood of cancer returning. The results of the Oncotype DX test are also used to plan treatment and management for the patient with cancer.
Breast cancer and current treatment options
Breast cancer is diagnosed in approximately 264,000 people every year in the United States alone. This is a common type of cancer in which knowing about future risks is useful when planning treatment options.
Which of the treatments to use for a patient with breast cancer depends on a number of factors and the Oncotype DX test is one of the tools that can provide help for doctors making this decision.
Breast cancer treatment can be done in a number of ways. These are described below:
- Surgery: Removing the breast or part of it where a tumor is found.
- Hormone-blocking medications: Medicine that blocks hormones that cancer uses to grow.
- Chemotherapy: The use of chemicals that are toxic to cancer cells.
- Radiation therapy: The use of beams of radiation targeted to where the cancer is.
- Biological agents: These include antibodies and interleukins that help fight cancer.
Some of the treatment options, particularly chemotherapy and radiation therapy, have unpleasant and potentially harmful side effects. Side effects like nausea, fatigue, and hair loss, are common for both radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Having a molecular test to help assess the breast cancer can provide physicians with extra information to help them decide if additional or different treatment is needed.
Oncotype DX test for breast cancer
The most widely used application of Oncotype DX tests is in people who have breast cancer. The Oncotype DX Breast Recurrence Score test is only recommended for use in certain cases of breast cancer. These are discussed below:
- The breast cancer is estrogen-receptor positive: This means the breast cancer cells can use the hormone estrogen.
- The cancer is human epidermal growth factor receptor-negative. This means that the cells only have a few HER2 proteins. These proteins usually help control cell growth rate. A lack of this protein means cells like cancer, can grow out of control.
- The breast cancer has been classified as stage I, II, or IIIA invasive. The stage gives the extent of the cancer, and invasive means that the cancer has spread from the point of origin.
Oncotype DX Breast Recurrence Score
The Oncotype DX Breast Recurrence Score can indicate whether or not it is better to have chemotherapy given the side effects of this treatment.
The DX score is based on the activity of 21 genes found in breast cancer cells. The results of the scores are given below:
For women who are 49 and younger, a score of:
- 0 to 20 is a low to medium chance of recurrence and chemotherapy is not recommended.
- 26 and higher indicates a high chance of recurrence and chemotherapy is recommended.
For women who are 50 and older, a score of:
- 0 to 20 indicates a low to medium chance of recurrence and chemotherapy is not recommended.
- 21 and greater indicates a medium to high chance of recurrence and chemotherapy is recommended.
Oncotype DX Breast DCIS Score
There is another Oncotype test for breast cancer called the Oncotype DX Breast DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ). Ductal carcinoma in situ means that there are cancer cells in the milk duct of the breast. The DCIS score is used to help assess the chance of invasive cancer to help doctors decide if radiation therapy is appropriate.
The Oncotype DX Breast DCIS scores:
- Below 39 means a very low risk of cancer recurrence.
- Between 39 and 54 is intermediate risk of recurrence.
- 55 and higher is a high risk of recurrence.
Prostate cancer and current treatment options
There are over 268,000 cases of prostate cancer in the United States every year. There are various options for prostate cancer treatment including the following:
- Surgery: A prostatectomy where the prostate is removed.
- Ablation: This involves using heat or cold to shrink prostate tissue.
- Hormone therapy
- Immunotherapy: This is where substances are used to stimulate the person’s immune system to kill the cancer.
Oncotype DX test for prostate cancer
An Oncotype Genomic Prostate Score can be used to assess the risk associated with prostate cancer. This score is based on examining 17 relevant genes. The test is recommended for men with low-risk and very low-risk cancer to help doctors make decisions about treatment and management of their patients’ illness.
It is important to determine risk because of the unpleasant side effects and costs associated with cancer treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy. A higher score may mean that additional treatment is advisable. This is ultimately up to the doctor and patient to decide.
Oncotype Genomic Prostate Scores and the associated risks of cancer occurring again:
- Below 26 is low risk
- 26 to 59 is intermediate risk
- Above 59 is high risk
Colon cancer and treatment options
The third cancer where the Oncotype DX test can be used is colon cancer. This cancer affects, on average, 4% of men and women. Colon cancer is being detected in more young people (younger than 50 years) than previously. There are various treatments available to treat this cancer; these therapies are outlined below:
- Surgery: Removal of cancerous polyps or part of the colon that is cancerous.
- Radiation therapy
- Targeted drugs: These are drugs that target specific proteins that help cancer to grow.
- Immunotherapy methods
Oncotype DX test for colon cancer
This test uses 12 genes to evaluate the likelihood of recurrence of colon cancer. It is thought that the Oncotype DX colon cancer test should be used to further evaluate what adjuvant therapies besides surgery would be helpful in patients with stage II and III colon cancer.
Oncotype DX Colon Cancer Recurrence Score and risk of recurrence:
- Less than 30 is a lower risk
- Equal to or greater than 41 is a higher risk
In cases where the risk of recurrence is greater, adjuvant therapy may be recommended. This is often chemotherapy or radiation, in addition to surgical removal of cancerous tissue.
The Oncotype DX test is a genomic assay that involves examining the genes in cancerous tissue taken during a biopsy. The idea is to use the gene expression of several genes to help assess if a patient’s cancer is likely to return in the future. This is a useful tool that oncologists can use to help plan a course of treatment for their cancer patients.
To search for the best Oncology healthcare providers in Germany, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, the UAE, the UK and the USA, please use the Mya Care search engine.
To search for the best healthcare providers worldwide, please use the Mya Care search engine.
- Albala, D., Kemeter, M. J., Febbo, P. G., Lu, R., John, V., Stoy, D., ... & Dubeck, F. (2016). Health economic impact and prospective clinical utility of oncotype DX® genomic prostate score. Reviews in Urology, 18(3), 123. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5102928/
- Lin, C. Y., Mooney, K., Choy, W., Yang, S. R., Barry-Holson, K., Horst, K., ... & Allison, K. (2018). Will oncotype DX DCIS testing guide therapy? A single-institution correlation of oncotype DX DCIS results with histopathologic findings and clinical management decisions. Modern Pathology, 31(4), 562-568. https://www.nature.com/articles/modpathol2017172
- McVeigh, T. P., Hughes, L. M., Miller, N., Sheehan, M., Keane, M., Sweeney, K. J., & Kerin, M. J. (2014). The impact of Oncotype DX testing on breast cancer management and chemotherapy prescribing patterns in a tertiary referral centre. European Journal of Cancer, 50(16), 2763-2770. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4204201/
- Vieira, A. F., & Schmitt, F. (2018). An update on breast cancer multigene prognostic tests—emergent clinical biomarkers. Frontiers in medicine, 5, 248. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6131478/
- You, Y. N., Rustin, R. B., & Sullivan, J. D. (2015). Oncotype DX® colon cancer assay for prediction of recurrence risk in patients with stage II and III colon cancer: A review of the evidence. Surgical oncology, 24(2), 61-66. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0960740415000055
Disclaimer: Please note that Mya Care does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The information provided is not intended to replace the care or advice of a qualified health care professional. The views expressed are personal views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Mya Care. Always consult your doctor for all diagnoses, treatments, and cures for any diseases or conditions, as well as before changing your health care regimen. Do not reproduce, copy, reformat, publish, distribute, upload, post, transmit, transfer in any manner or sell any of the materials in this blog without prior written permission from myacare.com.
For most women, hysterectomy is a significant point in their lives. Whether the surgical removal of the uterus is done for endometriosis, fibroids, or gynecological cancer, life after hysterectomy permanently changes a few aspects of your life.
Between the decades of 1910 and 1920, Dr. Ludwig Roemheld studied the phenomenon in which patients suffering from digestive problems and no detectable heart issues would experience cardiac symptoms.
Piriformis syndrome and herniated discs are painful conditions of the back. Both can cause sciatica. Sciatica is a type of pain that affects your lower back and legs. It occurs due to irritated or compressed sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve travels down the back to the legs.