This information explains the Oncotype DX® test and answers frequently asked questions about the test.

What is the Oncotype DX test?

Oncotype DX is a test that may predict how likely your breast cancer is to return and if you will benefit from having chemotherapy. The test results can help you and your doctors make a treatment plan that is right for you.

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Who can have this test?

This test can be given to for women with early-stage breast cancer (stage I or II) who have:

  • Cancers that have receptors for estrogen (estrogen-receptor positive).
  • Cancers that do not have the human epidermal growth factor protein (HER2 negative).
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When should I have the Oncotype DX test?

You should have the test when you and your doctor agree that the test results will be helpful for making decisions about chemotherapy treatment. 

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How is the Oncotype DX test performed?

For this test, a piece of cancer tissue that was removed during your surgery is examined. A group of 21 genes in this tissue are measured to see if they act in a way that makes your tumor more aggressive.

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What will I learn from the Oncotype DX test?

This test may help predict if your cancer will return and if getting chemotherapy will improve your chances that the cancer will not come back. This test can help you and your doctor decide if the benefits of chemotherapy outweigh the risks.

The test results include a recurrence score that tells you how likely your cancer is to come back. The score ranges from 0 to 100.

  • A low recurrence score is 17 and under. This means that:
    • The chance that your cancer will return is low.
    • The benefits of chemotherapy may not be worth the risks for you.
    • A low recurrence score does not mean that your cancer will definitely not come back.
  • A medium recurrence score is 18 to 30. This means that:
    • The chance that your cancer will return is in the medium range.
    • The benefits of chemotherapy for you are uncertain. Your doctor will discuss with you what this means.
  • A high recurrence score is 31 or over. This means that:
    • The chance that your cancer will return is somewhat higher.
    • Adding chemotherapy to your cancer treatment may help keep the cancer from coming back.
    • A high recurrence score does not mean that your cancer will definitely come back.
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How long will it take to get the results of the Oncotype DX test?

Your cancer tissue will be sent to a special laboratory, where it will be analyzed. It will take about 2 weeks for your doctor to get the results. You will then be able to discuss the results with your doctor.

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Is the test covered by insurance?

Most insurance companies cover this test. Your insurance company will need to approve the test before you have it done. If it is not covered, the company that does the testing may help you pay for the test.

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If I don’t need chemotherapy, do I still need hormone therapy?

If your cancer cells are estrogen-receptor positive, your doctor may advise you to take either tamoxifen or an aromatase inhibitor. These medications can help stop the growth of tumors by blocking estrogen or lowering the amount of estrogen in your body.

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