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Breast cancer tumor make-up changes through the course of disease
Date:9/25/2011

were stable ER negative. Sixteen percent of patients changed from ER positive to negative during the course of their disease, 12.6% changed from negative to positive, and 5% altered back and forth throughout tumour progression.

In the PR group, 30.2% of patients altered their hormone receptor status, with the majority changing from positive to negative. "Until now we thought that these predictive markers remained stable during the course of the cancer. But it is now apparent that these breast tumours markers, which are used to decide the best treatment for the patient, change as the tumour progresses and this significantly affects the way patients respond to particular therapies. This has important implications for the future management of the disease," says Dr. Lindstrm.

The researchers now intend to carry out a prospective study in which they will follow a group of breast cancer patients and examine the standard clinical markers throughout their tumour progression. "With cancer treatments becoming more and more efficacious and targeted to specific groups, it is particularly important that the correct treatment is given throughout the disease," says Dr. Lindstrm. "An additional advantage of carrying out regular biopsies would be that they could detect other primary cancers, or benign lesions, which could spare patients inappropriate or unnecessary therapies."

Dr. Lindstrm and colleagues think that their findings could possibly be applied to cancers other than breast. "We believe that tumour instability may be due to many different factors, for instance the choice of therapy and other host (patient) characteristics, and that some inherent tumour behaviour may well be shared by different tumour types. This is a promising area of research with important implications for patient management," she will conclude.

"This finding is of major clinical importance because it shows that many cancer patients who relapse do not receive optima
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Contact: Mary Rice
mary.rice@riceconseil.eu
ECCO-the European CanCer Organisation
Source:Eurekalert

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