New test predicts survival for breast cancer patients and best care

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Scientists have developed an improved test to predict how long women with breast cancer may live and which treatments will be most effective.

Some doctors in the UK use a formula called the Nottingham Prognostic Index (NPI) to give them an idea of a patient’s outlook, based on the size of the cancer, whether it has spread to the lymph nodes and how advanced the disease is.

While experts stress is not possible to predict exactly what will happen in each individual case, the index can give a general prognosis.

The NPI was developed more than 30 years ago and so experts have now developed an updated test based on the latest evidence.

They said the new Nottingham Prognostic Index Plus (NPI+) includes even more biomarkers of the disease and could be available to patients within two years.

Professor Ian Ellis, from the University of Nottingham’s division of cancer and stem cells, who worked on the test, said: “NPI+ will reduce uncertainty for clinicians and patients by removing a large number of patients with indeterminate prognosis and allow better-informed treatment decisions.

“In addition, the ability to give survival prediction will be welcomed by concerned patients. Decisions can be made more quickly, reducing waiting times and unnecessary consultation time.”

The test, described in the British Journal of Cancer, was developed using more than 1,000 breast cancer samples.