''One day, this discovery may lead to the development of a tissue test which can help predict recurrences based on ferroportin levels," he said. But for now, "we want to look at a larger group of women to confirm the results," Torti said.
"The initial studies they have done suggest this may be another way of predicting the behavior of breast cancer in additon to other available tests," added Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society. "However, as he [Torti] says, there is more research to be done." Whether the finding will prove to be clinically useful, he said, remains to be seen.
Another expert agreed. "If the findings bear out, testing for ferroportin might someday spare women from unnecessary treatments," said Susan Kane, professor of tumor cell biology at the City of Hope cancer center in Duarte, Calif.
"There is some thought that we overtreat, because it is difficult to determine [who needs which treatment to prevent recurrences]," Kane noted.
To learn more about breast cancer, visit the American Cancer Society.
SOURCES: Frank M. Torti, M.D., M.P.H., director, Comprehensive Cancer Center, Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, Winston-Salem, N.C.; Len Lichtenfeld, M.D., deputy chief medical officer, American Cancer Society, Atlanta,; Susan Kane, Ph.D., professor, division of tumor cell biology, City of Hope, Duarte, Calif.; Science Translational Medicine, Aug. 4, 2010, online
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