According to an article published by the BBC on March 14, researchers claim that the “internal wiring” of breast cancer can predict which women are more likely to relapse after treatment.
Studies done by scientists at the Cambridge University and Stanford University indicate that breast cancer is a cluster of 11 separate diseases, each with their own separate risks of returning.
What stands out about what these scientists did is that they did not look at the breast cancers cases they analyzed (of which there were over two thousand) as a single disease. As of now, doctors classify breast cancer based on the tumor’s response to estrogen hormones and direct therapies like Herceptin.
This research could help inform women of future risks they face, as well as change cancer treatment strategies.
We invited an integral member of ARD Foundation’s specialist board, Gepoliano Chaves, to analyze this article. According to him, there are certain points well-worth noting.
“The routes breast cancer takes to become systematic and lethal to the patients are little understood due to the lack of data on molecule characterization, [the lack of] long-term follow up on groups of patients and the [failure of] updating said data. A notable characteristic of the model studied by Oscar Rueda and his colleagues, published in the Nature magazine, is that the risks rates can be turned into transition possibilities that represent the probability of change from one state to another after a certain period of time, characteristic of the Markov process” he claims.
Gepoliano also listed some of the studies’ benefits:
“The biggest benefit of the statistical tools used by groups is that they allow us to calculate the risk of relapse in each of patient based on, for example, levels gene expression, data on immune-histochemistry and clinical variables. This study can help determine if women who are already free of relapse after five years can benefit from extended endocrine therapy (hormones) or if other types of intervention will give better results in the future. The four ER+ subgroups that experienced late relapse can be treated therapeutically using genes identified by the sequencing data, allowing for new treatment strategies for these patients who face higher risks was another important finding of this article.”