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Home News and Update Year 2010 Cancer test could prevent needless breast surgery for thousands - Daily Mail

Cancer test could prevent needless breast surgery for thousands - Daily Mail

By Jenny Hope
Last updated at 12:01 AM on 30th April 2010

Step forward: Researchers can predict whether women treated for an 'early' form of breast cancer will develop dangerous tumours

A new test for breast cancer could prevent thousands of sufferers undergoing needless mastectomies.

Scientists have successfully predicted whether women treated for an 'early' form of breast cancer will develop dangerous tumours.

Sufferers are often advised to have their breasts removed as a precaution, but with the new test they could avoid such a potentially unnecessary and traumatic procedure.

The breakthrough was made by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, who hailed it as 'a big step forward'.

Professor Karla Kerlikowske, who led the research, said that after initial treatment, doctors would be able to identify whether women had a high or low risk of developing invasive cancer..

She said: 'Women will have much more information, so they can better know their risk of developing invasive cancer.

'It will lead to a more personalised approach to treatment. As many as 44 per cent of patients may not require any further treatment, and can rely instead on surveillance.'

If a test is developed for wider use, doctors would be able to advise women about the need for extra treatment such as radiotherapy or hormonal drugs.

The researchers, writing in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, found three biomarkers  -  proteins and other molecules in breast tissue  -  that can identify which women have double the risk of invasive cancer in later years.

It could benefit women with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)  -  cancer in cells lining the milk ducts that has not spread.

It is mostly symptomless and at least 7,000 British women a year are told they have it after breast cancer screening.

It is an 'early' form of breast cancer that is not invasive and doctors are currently not able to identify women at greater risk of developing tumours after initial treatment.

Most women have a lumpectomy or a mastectomy if the pre-cancerous cells are widespread, to remove the affected tissue, and it is this tissue which provides the clue to their future risk.

A study looked at the medical histories of 1,162 women aged 40 or over who were diagnosed with DCIS and treated with lumpectomies.

Over eight years, a quarter of women developed invasive cancer and one in seven (13 per cent) had recurrent DCIS.

They found women whose DCIS tissue was positive for three biomarkers were twice as likely to develop invasive cancer.

Researcher Dr Thea Tisty said: 'This is an exciting and powerful beginning, to be able to predict which pre-cancers will lie dormant and which will lead to invasive cancers.'


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