tech zeroes in on breast tumours
The Borneo Post - Monday, 18 November, 2002
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A new molecular tag discovered by scientists at The University of Texas M.
D. Anderson Cancer Center may help doctors decide which breast cancer
patients need more aggressive treatment and which can forego the
potentially toxic course of chemotherapy.
Keyomarsi, Ph.D., associate professor in experimental radiation at M. D.
Anderson, and her colleagues report in the New England J ournal of
Medicine that high levels of a protein called cyclin E are closely
associated with aggressive, invasive breast cancer. The study, conducted
with tissue samples of current or former breast cancer patients, appears
to show that cyclin E is a much better predictor of patient outcome than
any current predictive marker. However, says Keyomarsi, the study must be
repeated with newly diagnosed patients to determine its true predictive
ability to predict which breast cancer tumours will recur or spread
throughout the body is an important aspect of breast cancer treatment,
says Keyomarsi. Currently, the prognosis for women diagnosed with breast
cancer is determined by whether tumour cells have spread to lymph nodes.
But some women who have cancer cells in the lymph nodes never have a
recurrence, while others whose cancer has not spread do have a recurrence.
Yet many women, after discussions with their doctors, opt to undergo
grueling chemotherapy in hopes of ensuring any rogue cancer cells that
may be present are killed. If an accurate predictive marker were
available, many women could be spared chemotherapy, she says.