This week, the journal Modern Pathology, a Nature Publishing Group journal, published Dr. Farrugia’s research that proposes a novel algorithm that can predict the effectiveness of chemotherapy to shrink breast cancer tumors prior to surgery and the risks of tumor recurrence. Presently, a molecular test that costs $4,175 (Oncotype DX) is used to predict the chance of a breast cancer recurring. At the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Dr. Farrugia embarked on a study to come up with a much less expensive test that gives essentially the same information about risks of cancer recurrence after chemotherapy by looking at certain pathological features of the tumor such as its rate of cell replication and the presence of hormone receptors on the surface of tumor cells. This score predicts both the chance of a breast tumor to respond to chemotherapy, and also the risks of the tumor to recur after chemotherapy. This inexpensive test gives equivalent information as the $4,175 test called the Oncotype DX, and is an attempt to provide new clinical tools that avoid the spiraling costs associated with breast cancer care.Dr. Farrugia presented this study at the American Society for Clinical Oncology annual meeting in Chicago, and for this work was honored with the American Society of Clinical Oncology Conquer Cancer Foundation Merit Award.
Farrugia DJ, Landmann A, Zhu L, Diego EJ, Johnson RR, Bonaventura M, Soran A, Dabbs DJ, Clark BZ, Puhalla SL, Jankowitz RC, Brufsky AM, Lembersky BC, Ahrendt GM, McAuliffe PF, Bhargava R. Magee Equation 3 predicts pathologic response to neoadjuvant systemic chemotherapy in estrogen receptor positive, HER2 negative/equivocal breast tumors. Mod Pathol. 2017 May 26. doi: 10.1038/modpathol.2017.41.