Calls for breast cancer test to be available on NHS

A HUNTINGDONSHIRE woman is calling for a pioneering test that predicts the probabilty of breast cancer recurring in victims to be made available on the NHS.

Former nurse Urszula Bennett of Stonely, near Kimbolton, said having the Oncotype DX test motivated her to continue with chemotherapy.

The 51-year-old mother-of-one had been considering dropping out of the treatment because of the side-effects but, when the test, which analyses a patient’s genetic make-up, showed she was at high risk of recurrence, Urszula opted to finish the treatment. She is now on the road to recovery and keen for the test, which currently costs �2000 and is provided only through molecular diagnostics company Genomic Health, to be more widely available.

She said: “Exactly this time last year, I was waiting to hear whether or not I needed to carry on with chemotherapy. It came back with a high score, which meant that my chances of recurrence were quite high. The chemo would lower that rate of recurrence to about 10 per cent.

“It gave me the momentum and strength I needed to get my head down and get it out of the way. I don’t know how much the cost of the test is to the NHS, but compare that with the cost of chemo which is �10,000 per person – it is nothing.”

But Dr Richard Moore, breast, general and paediatric surgeon at Hinchingbrooke Hospital, said the health service could offer such tests only once they had been adopted by NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence).

“It is a further test to help reassure women at a very frightening time when it is very difficult to make a treatment choice.

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“In five or 10 years time we are bound to have some form of technique like this that is standard or routine.”

A decision from NICE is expected in May. For more information on the Oncotype DX test go to