Case-Based Review

Genomic Testing in Women with Early-Stage Hormone Receptor–Positive, HER2-Negative Breast Cancer



The prognostic and predictive values of the BCI have been validated in other large, randomized studies and in patients with both node-negative and node-positive disease.39,55 The predictive value of the endocrine-response biomarker, the H/I ratio, has been demonstrated in randomized studies. In the MA.17 trial, a high H/I ratio was associated with increased risk for late recurrence in the absence of letrozole. However, extended endocrine therapy with letrozole in patients with high H/I ratios predicted benefit from therapy and decreased the probability of late disease recurrence.56 BCI was also compared to IHC4 and the 21-gene recurrence score in the TransATAC study and was the only test to show prognostic significance for both early (0–5 years) and late (5–10 year) recurrence.40

The impact of the BCI results on physicians’ recommendations for extended endocrine therapy was assessed by a prospective study. This study showed that the test result had a significant effect on both physician treatment recommendation and patient satisfaction. BCI testing resulted in a change in physician recommendations for extended endocrine therapy, with an overall decrease in recommendations for extended endocrine therapy from 74% to 54%. Knowledge of the test result also led to improved patient satisfaction and decreased anxiety.57


Due to the risk for late recurrence, extended endocrine therapy is being recommended for many patients with HR-positive breast cancers. Multiple genomic assays are being developed to better understand an individual’s risk for late recurrence and the potential for benefit from extended endocrine therapies. However, none of the assays has been validated in prospective randomized studies. Further validation is needed prior to routine use of these assays.

Case Continued

A BCI test is done and the result shows 4.3% BCI low-risk category in years 5–10, which is consistent with a low likelihood of benefit from extended endocrine therapy. After discussing the results of the BCI test in the context of no survival benefit from extending AIs beyond 5 years, both the patient and her oncologist feel comfortable with discontinuing endocrine therapy at the end of 5 years.


Reduction in breast cancer mortality is mainly the result of improved systemic treatments. With advances in breast cancer screening tools in recent years, the rate of cancer detection has increased. This has raised concerns regarding overdiagnosis. To prevent unwanted toxicities associated with overtreatment, better treatment decision tools are needed. Several genomic assays are currently available and widely used to provide prognostic and predictive information and aid in decisions regarding appropriate use of adjuvant chemotherapy in HR-positive/HER2-negative early-stage breast cancer. Ongoing studies are refining the cutoffs for these assays and expanding the applicability to node-positive breast cancers. Furthermore, with several studies now showing benefit from the use of extended endocrine therapy, some of these assays may be able to identify the subset of patients who are at increased risk for late recurrence and who might benefit from extended endocrine therapy. Advances in molecular testing has enabled clinicians to offer more personalized treatments to their patients, improve patients’ compliance, and decrease anxiety and conflict associated with management decisions. Although small numbers of patients with HER2-positive and triple-negative breast cancers were also included in some of these studies, use of genomic assays in this subset of patients is very limited and currently not recommended.

Next Article: