Breast cancer will develop in almost 12 percent of women in the United States over the course of their lives. Besides lung cancer, this particular type of disease has the highest death rates among all other types of cancers. A discovery regarding its survival rates might help turn things around for breast cancer, at least.
A team of researchers from The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in London managed to link an increased risk of dying from breast cancer to the activity of two genes. After an extensive testing period that involved almost 2, 000 patients, the scientists found that women who had a specific pattern of activity in a pair of genes found in tumors were almost three times more likely to die within ten years and those who did not exhibit that type of activity in their cancer cells.
The cancer cells with the particular pattern of activity identified by the scientists had the ability to escape from the glue that normally keeps them in groups. The genes might be playing a role in the cell’s ability to escape from the glue, known as the extracellular matrix, which allows them to spread around the body.
According to Dr. Paul Huang, the leader of the study and the Protein Networks Team at the ICR:
“Survival rates for breast cancer are now much higher than they were a few decades ago, but the disease remains deadly once it has spread round the body. Our study sheds light on how cancer cells unstick themselves from healthy tissue, and it could help pick out women at high risk of their cancer spreading and becoming fatal.”
If the results of this new research funded by the ICR and Breast Cancer now, will be confirmed, then they could be used to determine the survival rates in particular cases and adjust the treatment accordingly. Also, it could be used to create tests for aggressive types of breast cancer and even identify new targets for the treatment.
The study was published in the journal Oncotarget on August 17, and it describes how scientists tried to analyze cancer cells that had the HER2 protein, which is targeted by the Herceptin drug. They also developed a screening technique that allowed them to identify the cells that didn’t stick to the protein that forms the glue.
The results are promising, but more research is needed to determine how the pair of genes in question interferes with the glue, which eventually allows the cancer cells to grow and spread.
Do you know anyone affected by breast cancer?
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