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Genomic Health Says Gene Test Alters Breast Cancer Therapy

Genomic Health Inc., maker of a gene test that helps identify which breast cancer patients will benefit from chemotherapy, said using the technology changed treatment choices 33 percent of the time in European studies.

Chemotherapy was used 17 percent less often in Germany and 14 percent less often in the U.K. when breast cancer patients were given the test before their doctors made decisions about how to treat them, the Redwood City, California-based company said in a statement. The findings were presented at the St. Gallen International Breast Cancer Conference in St. Gallen, Switzerland.

The test examines 21 different genes in tissue samples taken from a woman’s breast tumor to assess her chances of being helped by chemotherapy and her odds of having a recurrence. Genomic Health is conducting studies to support coverage of the test’s use by medical insurers and government health programs and build sales, Chairman Randal Scott said in an interview yesterday.

The test provides “further insight into the underlying tumor biology of breast cancer” and “gives me greater confidence in selecting the most appropriate treatment option based on that patient’s individual disease,” Simon Holt, a breast surgeon at the Hywel Dda NHS Trust Board in Wales and leader of the U.K. study, said in the statement.

Genomic Health fell 60 cents, or 2.5 percent, to $23.16 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market composite trading. The shares have gained 21 percent in the past 12 months.

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