40,000 fewer women will undergo chemotherapy for breast cancer with the implementation of a gene activity test. [New York Times Aug 24, 2016]
The rate of survival was 94.7% over 5 years for those who underwent the gene test and passed up chemotherapy. [New England Journal Medicine Aug 25, 2016]
Did it really take all this time and the availability of a gene test for oncologists to realize chemotherapy wasn’t working?
According to one recently published study, chemotherapy for early-stage breast cancer ranges from $60,637 to $82, 121 in the year after diagnosis. That’s $2.425 to $3.284 billion out of the pockets of doctors and hospitals.
The MammaPrint and Oncotype Dx gene tests cost ~$4000. According to one study, ~80% of newly diagnosed breast cancers are early-stage (0-1). So maybe 200,000 women with newly diagnosed breast cancer will undergo one of these gene tests @$4000 a pop. That is $800 million of tests to prevent $2.4-$3.2 billion of chemotherapy.
Breast cancer is big business with nearly a quarter million women being diagnosed annually. The fear associated with breast cancer breeds overtreatment that modern medicine is all too willing to provide. Only about 3% of women diagnosed with breast cancer will die from this malignancy. [Cancer.org] Only about 20-30% of breast cancers will spread, which is the deadly form of breast cancer. [MBCN.org] The 98.6% 5-year survival rate is misleading for non-invasive breast cancer because it makes it sound like treatment is responsible for that high figure.