The genetic and molecular make-up of individual breast tumours holds clues to how a woman's disease couldprogress, including the likelihood of it coming back after treatment,and in what time frame, according to a Cancer Research UK-funded study published in
In the first study of its kind, scientists at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute at the University of Cambridge, in collaboration with Professor Christina Curtis at Stanford University, examined the patterns of genetic changes within tumours from nearly 2000 women with breast cancer and followed their progress over 20 years -- including whether their cancer returned. They used this information to create a statistical tool that can better predict if, and when a women's breast cancer could come back.
While the genetic analyses used in the study are too detailed for everyday use, the team are now working on a routine test that could one day help doctors offer women a more accurate prediction of if, and when their disease may return. Although not available to patients yet, this means that in the future, treatments and follow-up can be tailored, improving women's chances of survival.
Professor Carlos Caldas, lead researcher at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, said: "Treatments for breast cancer have improved dramatically in recent years, but unfortunately for some women, their breast cancer returns and spreads, becoming incurable. For some, this can be many years later -- but it's been impossible to accurately predict who is at risk of recurrence and who is all clear.