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Study shows value of breast cancer genetic test

Some New York women who are diagnosed with breast cancer may wonder whether they should make a decision about treatment based on whether they took a traditional test or a genetic test. In some cases, the traditional test might show that the risk of the cancer advancing is high while a genetic test might show that the risk is low. According to a study published on Aug. 24, the survival rate for women whose test results differ in this way are similar whether or not the women choose chemotherapy.

The chance of survival after five years without metastasis for women whose genetic tests showed a low risk and who went through chemotherapy was 1.9 percentage points higher. However, this also means that around 35,000 women annually may go through unnecessary chemotherapy and hormone therapy.

Experts disagree about the impact of the findings. Some say that the difference of less than 2 percentage points may still seem significant to some patients and clinicians. Others pointed out that the study only lasted five years. The researchers say that they chose the five-year cutoff because this is the time period in which breast cancer is most likely to metastasize. However, they are also continuing to follow the women to gather data on survival rates past five years.

In some cases, a medical professional might also misinterpret results in a medical test. This could result in delayed treatment or no treatment at all. It could also result in inappropriate treatment if the person is misdiagnosed, and in some cases, the side effects of the treatment might be harmful. A person who suffers as a result of medical errors might want to speak to an attorney about the situation and whether it could be compensable medical malpractice.

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