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Iron-regulating protein is strong predictor of breast cancer prognosis, study shows
Date:8/4/2010

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2010 A new study by researchers at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center (WFUBMC) may soon help to spare some women with breast cancer from having to undergo invasive and toxic treatments for their disease.

Investigators found that low levels of ferroportin, the only known protein to eliminate iron from cells, are associated with the most aggressive and recurring cancers. The finding suggests that testing for ferroportin levels in women with breast cancer may one day help doctors to more accurately predict whether their patients' cancer will return. It may also help some women with high levels of the protein to avoid invasive or toxic treatments such as chemotherapy.

The study, funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), appears today in the online version of the journal Science Translational Medicine.

"Ferroportin expression may help predict whether women who have had breast cancer will relapse or not," said Frank M. Torti, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center at WFUBMC, senior author on the paper and co-lead investigator for the study. The findings also suggest that levels of ferroportin may eventually help guide therapy for breast cancer patients.

"There is a group of high-risk women with breast cancer who have high ferroportin levels and do quite well," Torti said. "We may eventually be able to adjust our treatments so that these patients can avoid chemotherapy and all the side effects that go along with it. The ability to predict which women will be okay without such intense treatment would be a tremendous help."

The findings are the result of a series of experiments by Torti and colleagues at WFUBMC.

Drawing on the hypothesis that iron may be altered in breast cancer and that the alteration might be important in the behavior of the can
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Contact: Jessica Guenzel
jguenzel@wfubmc.edu
336-716-3487
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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