Breast Cancer

Overview

  • Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women, with more than 1.6 million new diagnoses worldwide every year (25% of all cancers). [1]

 

  • Breast cancer is the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths in women in developed countries. [2]  

                            

  • 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime. [2]

                                  

 

  • A woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every 2 minutes on average. [3]

 

  • More than 2.8 million breast cancer survivors currently live in the US. [2]        

                                               

Treatment

Following diagnosis and characterisation of the tumour subtype (e.g. hormone receptor and/or HER2 expression), women usually undergo surgery to remove the tumour. For women diagnosed with early stage, hormone receptor-positive and HER2-negative breast cancer (almost half of all new breast cancer diagnoses[4]), the majority are prescribed endocrine (hormonal) therapy in combination with chemotherapy.

The decision to undergo aggressive chemotherapy is not a trivial one, due to its associated side effects, its impact on the patient’s quality of life, and its economic impact (cost of treatment, cost of absence from work etc.). In fact, only approximately 30% of women with early stage breast cancer actually benefit from chemotherapy[5][6]. For the remaining 70%, their cancers would regress without chemotherapy, but they are prescribed the treatment because it is difficult to determine whether they are at risk of cancer recurrence.

Why do we need accurate prognostic assays?

It is important to accurately predict whether or not a patient would benefit from chemotherapy, in order to avoid overtreating women with unnecessary and aggressive chemotherapies. 

To meet these needs, there is a requirement for accurate tests that can stratify patients into those at high risk of cancer recurrence, and those at low risk. Those at low risk of their cancer recurring could safely avoid aggressive treatment, and have confidence in their decision.

OncoMark are currently developing a superior prognostic assay for breast cancer, which will help doctors and patients to confidently decide on the best course of treatment. This assay, named OncoMasTR, works by measuring the expression of a panel of specific genes in breast cancer tissue, and rapidly generates a result that clinicians and their patients can use to help decide if chemotherapy is necessary. OncoMasTR will help ensure that patients who do not require chemotherapy will not receive it and thus avoid unnecessary treatments and side effects.


[1] Globocan (http://globocan.iarc.fr/)

[2] Cancer Research UK (http://www.cancerresearchuk.org)

[3] Breast Cancer Awareness (http://www.breastcancerawareness.com/facts.php)

[4] Bleyer, A. & Welch, HG. N Engl J Med, 2012; 367, 1998-2005 

[5] Fisher, B. et al. Lancet, 2004; 364, 858-868

[6] Goldhirsch, A. et al. Ann Oncol, 2009; 20, 1319‐1329