Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 139, Issue 3, pp 621-637

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Multigene assays and molecular markers in breast cancer: systematic review of health economic analyses

  • Roman RouzierAffiliated withInstitut CurieEA 7285, UVSQInstitut Paoli Calmette
  • , Paolo PronzatoAffiliated withIRCCS Azienda Ospedaliera, Universitaria San Martino
  • , Elisabeth ChéreauAffiliated withInstitut Paoli Calmette
  • , Josh CarlsonAffiliated withUniversity of Washington
  • , Barnaby HuntAffiliated withOssian Health Economics and Communications
  • , William J. ValentineAffiliated withOssian Health Economics and Communications Email author 


Breast cancer is the most common female cancer and is associated with a significant clinical and economic burden. Multigene assays and molecular markers represent an opportunity to direct chemotherapy only to patients likely to have significant benefit. This systematic review examines published health economic analyses to assess the support for adjuvant therapy decision making. Literature searches of PubMed, the Cochrane Library, and congress databases were carried out to identify economic evaluations of multigene assays and molecular markers published between 2002 and 2012. After screening and data extraction, study quality was assessed using the Quality of Health Economic Studies instrument. The review identified 29 publications that reported evaluations of two assays: Oncotype DX® and MammaPrint. Studies of both tests provided evidence that their routine use was cost saving or cost-effective versus conventional approaches. Benefits were driven by optimal allocation of adjuvant chemotherapy and reduction in chemotherapy utilization. Findings were sensitive to variation in the frequency of chemotherapy prescription, chemotherapy costs, and patients’ risk profiles. Evidence suggests that multigene assays are likely cost saving or cost-effective relative to current approaches to adjuvant therapy. They should benefit decision making in early-stage breast cancer in a variety of settings worldwide.


Breast cancer Gene expression profiling Gene assay Molecular diagnostic techniques Health economics Cost-effectiveness