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Breast Cancer's DNA Yields More Secrets
Date:7/29/2010

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, July 29 (HealthDay News) -- The genetic makeup of breast cancer tumors may be a better predictor of how well a woman will fare than a tumor's size and appearance, which has been the traditional way of looking at cancers, new research suggests.

A European team of researchers analyzed the genetic makeup of 595 breast cancer tumors and compared the results to non-cancerous breast tissue. They then used algorithms to separate the tumors into eight types based on changes in the structure of the chromosomes, including deletions or amplifications of DNA, the study authors said.

In doing so, researchers showed that certain alterations in the patterns of DNA were able to predict cancer prognosis and response to particular treatments.

These findings join a host of recent scientific discoveries that suggest that the key to thwarting breast cancer may lie in the tumor's DNA.

"Is this going to go into clinical practice tomorrow? No," said Dr. Daniel Silver, assistant professor of medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. "This is just one step of many toward a deeper understanding of breast cancer."

The study was published in a recent issue of Science Translational Medicine.

Over the past few years, oncologists have increasingly relied on analyses of the DNA of breast cancer cells to determine which cancers are most likely to respond to certain treatments and which have the greatest chances of recurrence, explained Dr. Stephen Sener, past president of the American Cancer Society and a chief of the division of surgical oncology at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine.

"For many years, until about the turn of this century, breast cancer was thought to be one basic disease," Sener said. "But since the human genome was elucidated, now people are working on the breast cancer genome. We're learning a lot more abo
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