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Bio101 Breast Cancer Learning Team Project

1034 words - 4 pages

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women and the most common cause of cancer-related death in women between the ages of 45 and 55. For many women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, the initial thought is generally, “can I survive this?” Choosing the appropriate treatment for individuals who have been diagnosed with breast cancer is often a difficult first step, for both the doctor and the patient.Deciding on the best treatment is a patient’s first and most critical step toward overcoming the cancer. Chemotherapy is a well-known and common type of treatment. However, there are many difficulties with enduring the side effects of chemotherapy, some of which include hair loss, nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. In spite of the many side effects, many people choose to undergo chemotherapy treatment because it has proven to be very effective. There is a select group of patients who do not benefit from chemotherapy. Researchers are currently studying genes of cancer cells to see if pre-treatment tests can help patients determine if chemotherapy would be beneficial before they begin the painful and at times ineffective process.One of the genetic tests that can patients can use is called Oncotype DX. This test screens the genes of certain types of cancer to see if it will reappear. This test measures the levels of the abnormal cancer cells and calculates a recurrence score. The higher the test score, the higher chance of recurrence. The cost of the testing is so high that they do not want to perform the tests for as long as they need to in order to get the correct results. There is also the specific combination of chemotherapy drug treatment that the studies use to predict whether or not the patient will be in full remission. This particular chemotherapy combination had 25% error rate.The Role Insurance Companies have on Genetic AnalysisBeing diagnosed with breast cancer is not only terrifying but the experience is further complicated when the patient must understand the terminology and treatment options. Over the course of the last years, many advances have been made for breast cancer treatment. However, such treatments are very costly and many insurance companies do not want to pay for the cost of testing and treatment for cancer patients.Many labs are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to research the genetic path of cancer. The FDA has not approved several tests because they require many years of trials. Even if the FDA does approve them, the cost of having a genetic test can range up to several thousand dollars. These tests can show which people would respond best to different types of chemotherapy and radiation, and also tell which patients would least benefit from the treatment.Analyzing the Process of Genetic AnalysisScientists have worked to isolate genes and create tests that could predict a patient’s outcome to chemotherapy. Historically, patients have been blind going into their cancer...

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