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Am J Manag Care. 2011 May 1;17(5 Spec No):e194-202.

US insurance program's experience with a multigene assay for early-stage breast cancer.

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National guidelines recommend a 21-gene recurrence score (RS) to aid in adjuvant treatment decision in patients with estrogen receptor (ER)-positive, lymph node (LN)-negative early-stage breast cancer (ESBC). This study was performed to assess the economic implication of the assay in community practices from the perspective of a US payer.


The study analyzed 952 women with ESBC enrolled with Humana (Louisville, KY) who were tested with the 21-gene RS between June 2006 and June 2010. The proportions of women classified by the assay according to RS risk category, use, costs of chemotherapy regimens and supportive care, and costs of adverse events were obtained from Humana. We adopted a validated Markov model to compute the cost implications of RS for a representative patient. The probability of risk of recurrence, the chemotherapy benefit, and the decision impact of RS were derived from published studies.


A total of 255 patients within the tested population received adjuvant chemotherapy. Adjuvant chemotherapy was administered to 10% of women at low risk, 36% of women at intermediate risk, and 72% of women at high risk of recurrence. On the basis of a meta-analysis in the reduction of chemotherapy after RS, the model estimated an average test saving of $1160 per patient. The immediate direct savings for chemotherapy drugs, supportive care, and management of adverse events were $1885, $2578, and $472, respectively. Prevention of recurrence through appropriate treatment of patients at high risk resulted in additional savings of $199.


The adoption of the 21-gene RS led to targeted management of women with ER-positive, LN-negative ESBC and consequently directed savings to the payer.

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