When Cat received her Recurrence Score result, it was a 0.
Catherine (“Cat”), a registered nurse and pharmaceutical sales representative, found a lump in her breast while taking a shower in April 2006. She contacted her family physician the next day and had a mammogram and ultrasound. After a core biopsy, her physician told Cat, now 56, that she had breast cancer.
To learn about breast cancer and her treatment options, Cat began doing research online. She found BreastCancer.org, a very informative website, and learned a lot from its chat room and message board. After Cat posted her biopsy results online, a cancer survivor named Pat recommended that she look into the Oncotype DX assay, because she was a candidate for it, and pointed Cat to Oncotype DX.com.
Cat mentioned the test to her oncologist but found her reluctant to order the test. She had ordered it for a few patients, but because all their results fell in the intermediate-risk range, she was unsure of the test’s value. She also argued that insurance might not pay for the test. Cat still thought that Oncotype DX could be helpful and was willing to pay for it, so her oncologist ordered the test.
“I didn’t know you could even get a 0!”
Before she received the result, Cat went in for her lumpectomy. Anticipating that Cat would need chemotherapy, the surgeon wanted to put in an implantable port at the same time. But Cat refused, reasoning that she wanted to be more confident she would be likely to benefit from chemotherapy before having a port implanted.
When Cat received her Recurrence Score result, it was a 0, suggesting a low risk of distant recurrence assuming 5 years of tamoxifen therapy. “I didn’t know you could even get a 0!” she said. “I was thrilled!” She and her oncologist agreed that she would not be likely to benefit from chemotherapy. In addition, her insurance company completely covered the cost of the test.
Following her lumpectomy, Cat had radiation treatment. She is on hormonal therapy and is continuing to do well. In the summer of 2007, she drove from her home state of Florida to North Carolina, to meet and spend a weekend with Pat, who had told her about Oncotype DX. “It was an emotional meeting,” Cat said. “Both Pat and her daughter have had breast cancer. She had been through so much herself, but was so helpful to me. We were strangers when we ‘met’ online, but we’ve really bonded over the course of my journey through treatment.”
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