Monday, July 7, 2014

So what do those test results mean?

A new study shows (because we always need more studies) that women with breast cancer want the genomic tests but then do not understand the results.I am not surprised by this at all. This applies the results of the Oncotype DX, Mammaprint, and Mammostrat tests.

When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer the Oncotype DX test had just been made widely available. Many women who were also hanging out on the online websites for breast cancer support were getting their Oncotype DX test results (of course I was not eligible for the test) and questioning their results.
  • Some women would say this is my result and this is what the doctor recommends, do you think I need a second opinion or something to that effect.
  • Another group would say these are my results and they are in the middle, what should I do?
  • Finally, there would be more women saying, these are my results, did anyone else have these results and what did they do?
It was clear there was a lot of lack of understanding of the test and what it meant. I think the first point is that doctors clearly need to better explain the tests and what their results mean. But we can't blame the doctors for all of this. Women, or any patient who is faced with a new diagnostic or predictive tool like this, need to understand that it is just one more tool in helping to come up with the best treatment plan for them.

Genomic tests are going to be part of the diagnostic and predictive tools available in the future. Education needs to be done for the general public to understand their potential impact and what they mean. To me they represent the next step in understanding the many subsets of different diseases.

Breast cancer is not one disease but hundreds. Every little test like this can help set up the correct treatment plan for each patient and prevent over and under treatment. Greater education needs to be given so that patients better understand that each patient is different and treatment plans are not going to be the same, even if you are treated at the same hospital by the same doctor.

1 comment:

Meg said...

Love, love, love your new background.

And yes we all need to better understand our test results. Knowledge is power.
Meg