Nova Scotia women with certain forms of breast cancer can access genetic test through pilot project

July 18, 2016
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Halifax, N.S., July 18, 2016— Nova Scotia women who have a particular kind of early stage breast cancer will be able to access the Oncotype Dx test that measures cancer genes in a patient’s breast cancer tissue to help determine whether or not chemotherapy is beneficial following surgery.

Nova Scotia Health Authority has begun a $75,000 pilot project to evaluate the effectiveness of the Oncotype Dx test. The test has the potential to spare some women from having chemotherapy that is unlikely to benefit them and having to deal with the resulting side effects.

“NSHA and the Program of Care for Cancer are committed to ensuring cancer patients receive high quality treatment and care, based on the latest evidence and leading practice,” said Dr. Drew Bethune, Medical Director of the Program of Care for Cancer. “We are pleased to be able to offer this test to Nova Scotia women.”

Dr. Tallal Younis, a medical oncologist at the QEII Health Sciences Centre in Halifax, and co-chair of the multi-disciplinary breast site team at the Nova Scotia Cancer Centre, said this is very good news for women, for their families and for their health care providers.

“While the Oncotype Dx test is not appropriate for all women who have breast cancer, current evidence suggests it has the potential to significantly improve patient outcomes by identifying women with early stage cancers who will benefit from chemotherapy as well as those who are unlikely to benefit from it.”

Oncotype Dx is appropriate for women with endocrine sensitive and HER2 negative early stage breast cancer who meet other clinical eligibility criteria. The pilot program began on July 4, 2016 and runs until March 31, 2017.

Between 60 and 70 Nova Scotia women who are newly-diagnosed with breast cancer are expected to qualify for the Oncotype Dx test during this pilot. Medical oncologists will continue to discuss and provide information about evidence-based treatment options for these patients, and for patients who do not qualify based on the specifics of their cancer diagnosis.

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Christine Smith
Program of Care for Cancer,
Nova Scotia Health Authority
902-222-9739



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