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Protein May Identify Deadlier Breast Cancer

Findings might help doctors determine prognosis, researchers say

TUESDAY, Aug. 25 (HealthDay News) -- A protein linked to more aggressive and advanced breast cancer tumors has been identified by German researchers.

The investigators analyzed 229 breast tissue samples from patients with cancer and compared them with healthy breast tissue. The study found that patients whose tumors had elevated levels of GLI1 (glioma-associated oncogene homolog 1) protein tended to have a more advanced stage of cancer, had an increased number of cancerous lymph nodes and a greater chance of death.

GLI1 could be a useful measurement for determining cancer prognosis, according to the study published this week in the journal BMC Cancer.

"GLI1, a mediator of the so-called 'hedgehog' signaling pathway, has previously been implicated in the development of different human tumor entities," said lead study author Edgar Dahl of RWTH Aachen's University Hospital in Germany, in a news release from the journal's publisher.

"We've found a positive, significant association between overexpression of GLI1 and unfavorable overall survival outcome in human breast cancer," Dahl added.

Overexpression of GLI1 has also been implicated in esophageal cancer, the researchers noted.

"Taken together, these results support a role of GLI1 as a new prognostic biomarker in breast cancer," Dahl said. "Future studies will determine whether GLI1 can be successfully included into multimarker panels for early cancer detection or molecular sub-typing of breast cancer. This could support personalized breast cancer medicine."

More information

The American Cancer Society has more on breast cancer.

-- Jennifer Thomas

SOURCE: BioMed Central, news release, Aug. 24, 2009

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