As techniques in breast cancer diagnosis and treatment become more sophisticated, it is becoming possible to look at the molecular signature of individual breast cancers. Every cancer is unique. A breast tumour can produce thousands of different proteins, some of which help it to survive and some that mean it is less aggressive.

Reading that molecular signature is not easy, but we now have several rapid tests that can help to predict whether a breast cancer is likely to spread easily or not.

MammaPrint®

This diagnostic test kit for breast cancer looks at the molecular signature of a breast cancer cell by measuring the activity of 70 different genes. The MammaPrint® system uses fresh breast tissue to analyse the activity of these genes. It then classifies the tumour as being at either high-risk of spreading or at low-risk.

It is important to know this information because a woman with breast cancer that is at high-risk of spreading can then be given more aggressive treatment. In the same way, a woman with a very low-risk tumour may not need as much therapy to have the same chance of survival and recovery.

Oncotype DX®

This is a similar type of test but has some differences compared to MammaPrint.  The test is performed on breast tissue that has been preserved and fixed in formalin, so does not need fresh breast tissue.  The test  predicts the likelihood that the breast cancer will recur within the next 10 years (which is a measure of whether it will spread).

The main advantage of being able to have these tests at The London Clinic is that women who are identified as being at very low risk of metastasis are able to avoid chemotherapy with the confidence of knowing their chances of recovery are not being compromised. For women at high-risk, they can also be reassured that their chemotherapy is a necessity.