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Genome Med. 2011 Oct 4;3(10):64. doi: 10.1186/gm280.

Pharmacogenetic testing affects choice of therapy among women considering tamoxifen treatment.

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  • 1Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of California San Francisco, 1545 Divisadero Street, Suite 322, San Francisco, CA 94143-0320, USA.



Pharmacogenetic testing holds major promise in allowing physicians to tailor therapy to patients based on genotype. However, there is little data on the impact of pharmacogenetic test results on patient and clinician choice of therapy. CYP2D6 testing among tamoxifen users offers a potential test case of the use of pharmacogenetic testing in the clinic. We evaluated the effect of CYP2D6 testing in clinical practice to determine whether genotype results affected choice of hormone therapy in a prospective cohort study.


Women planning to take or currently taking tamoxifen were considered eligible. Participants were enrolled in an informational session that reviewed the results of studies of CYP2D6 genotype on breast cancer recurrence. CYP2D6 genotyping was offered to participants using the AmpliChip CYP450 Test. Women were classified as either poor, intermediate, extensive or ultra-rapid metabolizers. Results were provided to clinicians without specific treatment recommendations. Follow-up was performed with a structured phone interview 3 to 6 months after testing to evaluate changes in medication.


A total of 245 women were tested and 235 completed the follow-up survey. Six of 13 (46%) women classified as poor metabolizers reported changing treatment compared with 11 of 218 (5%) classified as intermediate, extensive or ultra-rapid metabolizers (P < 0.001). There was no difference in treatment choices between women classified as intermediate and extensive metabolizers. In multi-variate models that adjusted for age, race/ethnicity, educational status, method of referral into the study, prior knowledge of CYP2D6 testing, the patients' CYP2D6 genotype was the only significant factor that predicted a change in therapy (odds ratio 22.8; 95% confidence interval 5.2 to 98.8). Genetic testing did not affect use of co-medications that interact with CYP2D6.


CYP2D6 genotype testing led to changes in therapy among poor metabolizers, even in the absence of definitive data that an alternative medicine improved outcomes. Pharmacogenetic testing can affect choice of therapy, even in the absence of definitive data on clinical impact.

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