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Breast health 2019

The test that helped my breast cancer decision

iStock / Getty Images Plus / dolgachov

Professor Liz Lightstone

Breast cancer patient

A genomic test helped Professor Liz Lightstone make a better-informed decision about whether to have chemotherapy for her breast cancer.

Having the Prosigna test helped make the right decision for me. Not having chemotherapy means I will get my life back faster.

When Liz Lightstone found a lump in her breast in June this year, she “just knew” it was cancer. However, as a Professor of renal medicine at Imperial College, London, Liz wanted as much medical information as possible when making treatment decisions.

“Tests confirmed I had very early-stage breast cancer,” says Liz. “I was pretty confident because it was caught early and was well-understood. I told everyone right away.”

Prosigna test allows for more personalised treatment

Liz’s cancer was classed as hormone receptor positive HER2 negative, where the cancer may grow more slowly and is less likely to recur after treatment.

However, Liz says: “Mine was a low-risk cancer. I did not want chemotherapy if it was would not make much difference to my personal risk of recurrence.”

She decided to use the Prosigna test to predict an individual patient’s ten-year risk of recurrence. She says: “It’s particularly suitable for women with early-stage hormone receptor positive HER2 negative breast cancer and is being indicated for node-positive patients as well – like me. It allows for personalised medicine, cutting the risk of over- or under-treatment.”

Her personalised score indicated that her tumour was of good prognosis and of a molecular type, allowing chemotherapy to be spared. The results helped Liz decide against chemotherapy.

Helping you make the right decision

Even without chemotherapy, her life has been affected more than she expected. “I usually combine research with spells of clinical work on renal wards. I had decided to leave out the ward sessions this year, even before my diagnosis – just as well, as I couldn’t have done it,” she says.

“The tests, medical appointments and treatment dominate your life. I can’t remember anything else about June and July. I’m having radiotherapy now and thought I could work throughout, but it leaves me so tired, it’s a race to get to bed before falling asleep.”

Liz adds: “Having the test helped make the right decision for me. Not having chemotherapy means I will get my life back faster.”

Anyone being treated for breast cancer can mention the availability of the test in the UK to their oncologist, surgeon, or nurse.

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