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Monday, December 07, 2009 Peglove, Community Member, asks

Q: What is the Oncotype DX test for?

I have been told I need to have chemo, but have not had the oncotype dx test done. Why is it necessary? What does it show? Is it mandatory? Is it beneficial if I already know my sentinel node was positive for cancer?


Thanks, Peg.

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Answers (4)
Phyllis Johnson, Health Guide
12/ 8/09 5:05am

The Oncotype DX test is new since my treatment, so I'm not up on all the details of when and how it is used.  Its basic purpose is to tell the doctor how aggressive the tumor is to help make the decision about whether chemo is needed.  Because your doctors already know that you need chemo because of that positive lymph node, they may have decided that the Oncotype test isn't necessary.  I do think you might want to ask the doctor about it just so you know their reasoning.

Laura A. Learn-Hack, Community Member
12/ 8/09 10:41am

You can go to they are the ones who analyze the sample and have a wonderful site that answers any and all questions. I had the test and am participating in there study. It can be a very useful test, and can give you piece of mind about your odds of reaccurance. good luck. LauraLaughing

PJ Hamel, Health Guide
12/ 8/09 4:52pm

Peg, this will be the third time in the past 2 days I've posted this answer - don't know WHAT is going on that it doesn't appear! Please read our post on the Oncotype DX test - it'll tell you all about why it's important. When I wrote the post it was only for node-negative cancers, but I believe it's now for both node-negative and node-positive. Anyway, ask your oncologist for more info., OK? PJH

mom of 5, Community Member
12/10/09 9:47am

I also was told I would need chemo as I too had a positive sentinel node; however when the oncotype dx test came back with a very low score, my team (surgeon, radiologists, oncologists) nixed the chemo.  I was very concerned about this as I had 2 yr old twins at the time & definitely wanted to improve my chances any way possible, so I doublechecked with two sources I was fortunate enough to have access to.  One is the head of the breast center at Johns Hopkins and the other is a breast cancer specialist at Georgetown.  Both said that with a low oncotype score, they would NOT recommend chemo.  In fact, one said she wouldn't give me chemo even if I asked for it!  Basically, my understanding is that the oncotype score gives the likelihood of recurrence & gives an indication of how helpful chemo would be.  My surgeon said he has a patient who was given chemo prophilactically (sp?) who developed a leukemia that is non-curable. 

Hope this helps.  Good luck!

PJ Hamel, Health Guide
12/10/09 5:59pm

Thanks for pointing out the downside of chemo - it definitely does a long-term number on you. Absolutely helps to have access to the Oncotype test - wish they'd had it when I did chemo, I might have dodged that bullet! PJH

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By Peglove, Community Member— Last Modified: 02/26/13, First Published: 12/07/09