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Breast cancer heterogeneity no barrier to predictive testing, study shows
Date:5/2/2013

Lugano-CH, Brussels-BE, 2 May 2013 -- Breast cancers contain many different cell types with different patterns of gene expression, but a new study provides reassurance that this variability should not be a barrier to using gene expression tests to help tailor cancer treatments to individual patients.

The findings were reported at the 5th IMPAKT Breast Cancer Conference in Brussels, Belgium. The IMPAKT meeting presents cutting edge, 'translational' breast cancer research that is beginning to have an impact for patients.

In recent years it has become clear that breast cancers contain a variety of different cell types. An important result of this heterogeneity is that different biopsy specimens from a single breast cancer tumour can exhibit significant variability in genes expression.

This is a major concern for doctors seeking to understand which patients are likely to benefit from drugs designed to be effective against tumour cells with particular genetic characteristics. A number of studies at this year's IMPAKT conference consider this issue.

In one study, Dr Michał Jarząb and colleagues from the Maria Skłodowska-Curie Memorial Cancer Center and Institute of Oncology, Poland took a total of 78 different biopsies from 26 individual tumours to assess the degree of genomic variation, and its impact on a set of 32 different prognostic and predictive multi-gene signatures.

"Some genomic tests have proven very useful in breast cancer, but in other important areas we have not achieved optimal results," Dr Jarząb explains. "One of these areas where we haven't done so well is in deciding whether a particular patient would benefit from certain type of chemotherapy or not, based on the material from pre-surgical needle biopsies. We hypothesized that some genomic tests may be prone to the heterogeneity of starting material and provide not reliable results."

The researchers performed gene expressio
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Contact: Vanessa Pavinato
media@esmo.org
European Society for Medical Oncology
Source:Eurekalert

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