Patients with invasive breast cancer will soon get wider access in England to a multi-gene test able to predict the likely benefit of chemotherapy as well as the risk of disease recurrence.

NHS hospital trusts will be able to sign up to an access scheme from April 2015 to make Genomic Health UK’s Oncotype DX test available to their patients, helping clinicians decide whether to prescribe chemotherapy in people with early breast cancer. 

The access scheme follows final guidance by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, which recommends only the Oncotype DX test for assisting in chemotherapy treatment decisions, potentially reducing over-treatment and unnecessary costs for the healthcare system, the firm said. 

Research shows that less than 10% of patients with early-stage breast cancer actually benefit from chemotherapy, and almost a third of treatment recommendations for UK-based, early-stage breast cancer patients change after the use of Oncotype DX.

“The improved access to a test that allows for a better understanding of individual tumour biology is an important step forward to personalised care for UK breast cancer patients,” said Nigel Bundred, Professor in Surgical Oncology, University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust.

“Having this knowledge can give us greater confidence in recommending a treatment plan best suited for an individual patient which decreases the complications of treatment without compromising survival,” he stressed.