Questions and Answers

What is MammaPrint?

MammaPrint is a unique test which analyses how aggressive your breast tumour is. The result of your MammaPrint test will assist you and your physician in determining what would be the best treatment for you following your operation.

Is MammaPrint suitable for me?

MammaPrint is most suitable if breast cancer is still at an early stage. Ask your physician whether MammaPrint would be useful in your condition.

How do I obtain MammaPrint?

Your physician can request the test to be performed. Please discuss this with your physician.

Will MammaPrint cure me?

No, MammaPrint is not a treatment or cure. It is a tool used to make a more accurate diagnosis. It can be used to determine how aggressive your type of breast cancer is. MammaPrint will however help you decide what would be the most appropriate treatment for you.

Why should I opt for MammaPrint?

You wish to receive the best possible breast cancer treatment. MammaPrint will enable you to choose a treatment which is specifically tailored to you. Over 75% of breast cancer patients in the Netherlands receive chemotherapy treatment, even though it is a well known fact that this heavy treatment is unnecessary for many of them. As many as half of breast cancer patients receive chemotherapy which they do not benefit from in any way, but nevertheless experience the side effects. If these women had been able to make a decision based on precise information obtained from MammaPrint, they could have foregone the heavy chemotherapy.

What must my tumour comply with?

MammaPrint is suitable for all types of breast cancer at an early stage, i.e. for ER+ and ER lymph node negative and positive (1-3) tumours in stages 1 and 2.

How does my physician obtain tumour tissue for the MammaPrint?

The physician takes a small piece of tissue from the tumour which has been removed, and sends it off to Agendia’s laboratory.

“During surgery it emerged that there are no metastases in my lymph nodes. What are my chances?”

This implies that statistically there is a 30% chance of metastasis within ten years. But supplementary therapy could reduce this risk. The MammaPrint can be used to determine in greater detail what your specific risk of metastasis is. You will then know whether chemotherapy would be appropriate for your tumour.

What are my chances of survival?

The chances of survival are excellent. Over the past twenty years prospects have radically improved. Especially if you have been diagnosed at an early stage, your chance of being cured will be very high. The fall in death rate is greatest among women between 50 and 75 years of age, i.e. the group which is invited for national breast cancer screening.

Does MammaPrint indicate anything regarding heritability?

No, a different kind of test would need to be carried out. This test focuses on the hereditary forms of breast cancer, which can be identified in the BCRA-1 or BCRA-2 gene.

How long will it take to get the result?

It takes ten working days to get the MammaPrint result, and it will be sent directly to your physician.

Will my insurance company cover the MammaPrint?

At present MammaPrint is covered by most private health insurance companies but not all insurers cover MammaPrint yet, it is dependent upon the health insurance company you or your family are covered by and the the terms and conditions of your insurance package. It would be prudent to contact your insurer to ask if they cover MammaPrint if they do there is no issue in the case they do not cover or refuse cover it would be prudent to discuss this with your doctor and ask him/her advise and to support your request and/or ask your clinician to contact your insurer in your behalf.

How much does MammaPrint cost?

MammaPrint costs are approximately $USD4,200, cost may vary depending on local hospital costs and added charges. If you are not covered by insurance you may opt for self-pay of the test, please discuss this with your doctor. Only your doctor can order the test.

Where is the MammaPrint test performed?

At Agendia’s laboratory in California.

Where was MammaPrint developed?

The new MammaPrint technique was developed in the Netherlands by scientists and doctors at the Nederlands Kanker Instituut (Netherlands Cancer Institute) and Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital in Amsterdam.

How was MammaPrint developed?

Researchers compared the genes of patients with early metastasis to the genes of patients with late metastasis or no metastasis at all. It emerged that 70 genes played a role in the formation of metastasis and the spread thereof.

What makes MammaPrint so revolutionary and ground breaking?

The MammaPrint test is a huge leap forward in the field of diagnosis. Analyzing the 70 genes enables one to predict with greater precision how the cancer is going to progress in the future. This will then enable your physician to tailor your treatment with greater precision.
MammaPrint is revolutionary in that it is a highly personalised diagnostic tool. MammaPrint will reveal how your individual tumour is going to develop. MammaPrint accurately predicts the risk of metastasis. This will enable you and your physician to make a more informed choice regarding the best kind of treatment for you in your specific condition.
MammaPrint is one of the first products to facilitate tailor made medicine. Your treatment no longer follows a standard protocol, but is based on your individual profile. Your genetic make up plays a particularly important role in cancer. Your predisposition and shortcomings which occur in your genes determine the development in your cells.

How does microarray technology work?

A MammaPrint is performed at Agendia’s laboratory, using microarray chip technology. A microarray is a minute (micro) rectangular plate containing tiny drops of DNA arranged in a matrix pattern (array).
Each spot on the microarray contains a piece of DNA of one particular gene, which belongs for example to a human being. In the event of a MammaPrint they would be genes from a piece of breast tissue.
Cancer is often caused by overactive genes. It becomes essential to know which specific genes are the cause of the cancer. This can be determined by using a microarray to compare the activity of the genes in healthy cells to the activity of genes in tumour cells.