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Gene-expression-based biomarker predicts long-term risk of breast cancer recurrence
Date:9/11/2013

A comparison of three methods of predicting the risk of recurrence in women treated for estrogen-receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer finds that only the breast cancer index (BCI) a biomarker based on the expression levels of seven tumor-specific genes accurately identifies patients who continue to be at risk after five years of treatment with either tamoxifen or the aromatase inhibitor anastrozole. The study comparing the BCI with two other prognostic tests has been published online in Lancet Oncology.

"We have validated a unique 'fingerprint' in the primary tumor of breast cancer patients that can help identify a high or low risk of cancer recurrence," says study co-author Paul Goss, MD, PhD, director of the Breast Cancer Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Cancer Center. "This should enable us to offer prolonged treatment to patients who remain at risk and, importantly, to avoid the costs and side effects of treatment in those at low risk."

Standard treatment for early-stage, ER-positive breast cancer includes five years of treatment with either tamoxifen or an aromatase inhibitor, drugs that block the action of estrogen. While that approach is sufficient for most patients, some continue to experience recurrence during subsequent years. The study authors note that knowing whether or not a patient continues to be at risk is essential to determining whether prolonged treatment is necessary.

MGH researchers previously developed, in collaboration with investigators from bioTheranostics, Inc., two biomarkers for recurrence risk assessment the molecular grade index, which measures expression levels of five genes related to tumor proliferation; and the H/I ratio, which compares expression levels of two other genes. BCI is a combination of both biomarkers and has been shown to identify patients who are at risk of early recurrence despite receiving hormonal treatment.

The current study, led
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Contact: Katie Marquedant
kmarquedant@partners.org
617-726-0337
Massachusetts General Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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