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Genetic tests detect new way to fight war on breast cancer

Rating

4 Star

Genetic tests detect new way to fight war on breast cancer

Our Review Summary

The story discusses new genetic tests that may help some women with early-stage breast cancer determine their risk of recurrence, and thus help with decisions about chemotherapy. More tailored (often less) chemotherapy is a newer idea for women who may not benefit as much from more aggressive treatment. 

 

A favorable score on a genetic test does not mean a woman at lower risk will not benefit at all from chemotherapy; she may, in fact, benefit some over the long term, but not as much as a woman with a higher chance of cancer recurring.  Also, a woman's values and ability to live with a certain amount of risk, though small, is still part of the decision to have chemotherapy or forgo this treatment.

 

The story presented no quantitative evidence for the Oncotype Dx test, which was the main focus of the story. It only said the test had been independently validated via a peer-reviewed process, and that it had been used on over 17,000 women. This test is validated only for women with node-negative breast cancer whose tumors are estrogen receptor-positive. The story does not mention that the test is time-sensitive and must be used within six months of diagnosis. The story emphasizes the cost of Oncotype Dx and notes that this may make it prohibitive for some women whose health insurance does not cover the test. 

 

The story is balanced and does not appear to be taken from a press release. A breast cancer specialist, a public health researcher, breast cancer patients and the CEO of Genomic Health, makers of Oncotype Dx, provide perspective on genetic testing as an aid in decision-making for breast cancer treatment . 

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Satisfactory

The story mentions the cost of this genetic test, as well as the issue of insurance coverage. 

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

The story didn't quantify any benefit from the use of the test.  

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not mention potential harms of genetic testing. A favorable score does not mean an individual woman at lower risk will not benefit at all from chemotherapy; she may benefit some over the long term, but not as much as a woman with a higher chance of cancer recurring.  Also, a woman's values and ability to live with a certain amount of risk, though small, is still part of the decision to have chemotherapy or no chemotherapy. Decisions for chemotherapy are not based solely on the results of Oncotype Dx.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Not Satisfactory

Most of the story is devoted to the Oncotype DX test.  The story only mentions that the test has been independently validated via a peer-reviewed process and it has been used on over 17,000 women.  But it doesn't quantify any of the evidence for the test or from the use of the test.  

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

The story does not engage in disease mongering. The story provides accurate American Cancer Society statistics on breast cancer incidence and mortality.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Satisfactory

The story is balanced. A breast cancer specialist, a public health researcher, breast cancer patients and the CEO of Genomic Health, makers of Oncotype Dx, provide perspective on genetic testing as an aid in decision making for breast cancer treatment. 

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory

The story explains that the Oncotype DX test "is among the tools making their way into doctors' hands and patients' lives as new technology emerges from genetics research. The tools, which include screening tests and targeted drugs, help doctors tailor treatments for breast and other cancers."  It also mentions the BRCA blood test and another test under development, OncoVue. 

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Satisfactory

The story explains that "The test's manufacturer says Oncotype DX has been performed on about 17,000 women. It is among the tools making their way into doctors' hands and patients' lives." The story mentions that the cost of Oncotype Dx may make it prohibitive for women whose health insurance does not cover the test. This test is validated for women with node-negative breast cancers that are estrogen receptor-positive, and when Oncotype DX is used within six months of diagnosis. The story does not mention that it is time-limited.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The story mentions a new genetic test that can help some women with early-stage breast cancer determine their risk of recurrence and thus help with decisions about chemotherapy. More tailored (often less or forgoing) chemotherapy is a newer idea for women who may not benefit as much from more aggressive treatment.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Satisfactory

There are several sources cited who provide prospective on genetic tests such as Oncotype Dx. Information does not appear to be taken directly from a press release.

 

 

Total Score: 7 of 10 Satisfactory

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