BREAST cancer patients in Basingstoke are to benefit from a major decision by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

It has recommended the wider use of a tool that can help doctors decide whether chemotherapy is necessary for some patients with breast cancer.

The tool, called the Oncotype DX Breast Recurrence Score test, analyses the biology of a patient's cancer to predict their risk of recurrence.

Exact Sciences, a provider of this test, announced that NICE has recommended its expanded use to more effectively target chemotherapy treatment for women.

READ MORE: Report suggests people with breast cancer are being 'systematically left behind'

Up until now, access to this test has depended on where patients live due to NHS trusts having to pay for the test out of local budgets – something only 60 per cent have been able to do. This inequity of access has caused a “postcode lottery”.   

The new decision means that more patients in Basingstoke will now have access to this potentially life-changing test.

The information from the tool can help doctors tailor treatment plans, potentially sparing many patients from the gruelling side effects of chemotherapy.

Breast cancer patients who are male and trans, non-binary or intersex may also benefit from the test depending on their hormonal profile.

While the majority of patients with lymph node-positive early-stage breast cancer receive chemotherapy, research shows that only a minority actually benefit from the treatment. 

SEE ALSO: £2,500 fine warning to drivers for wearing sunglasses

Access to genomic testing for patients with lymph node-positive breast cancer addresses the issue of overtreatment with chemotherapy, helping many patients to avoid treatment side effects such as nausea, fatigue, hair loss and potentially secondary cancer. In addition, expanded reimbursement has the potential to free up resources and capacity within NHS breast cancer services.

Dr Caroline Archer, consultant medical oncologist Portsmouth Hospital NHS Trust, said: "This is a practice-changing moment for node-positive patients and the NHS. There is an urgent need to target chemotherapy more precisely to those most likely to benefit from it, so that patients can avoid unnecessary side effects.

"The Oncotype DX Breast Recurrence Score result enables us to do this effectively by providing specific information about an individual’s response to chemotherapy. This positive recommendation marks a significant step forward in supporting equitable access to the test across the country.”