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It is important for oncologists to partner with pathologists when utilizing high-risk, high-impact gene expression profiling tests for patients with breast cancer, explains David J. Dabbs, MD. There has been an evolution in the collaboration between specialists in the past 10 to 20 years, as new tests became available and the importance of gene expression increased.
In the past, each discipline would report results specific to their individual specialty. Fundamentally, pathologists would weigh in with their determination of tumor grade and stage, which was an indication of the tumors aggressiveness. Based on this, a treatment decision was made.
However, in 2015 there is a free-flowing discussion at tumor boards that includes gene expression profiles as another layer in these assessments. These genetic tests correlate well with the traditional pathologic factors, and offer an additional tool for oncologists to further assess each patient, Dabbs notes. Moreover, these tests could provide a meaningful tool to pathologists to better assess the tumor.