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A new study published in the journal Nature may have figured out a way to simplify how doctors look at breast cancer tumors. According to the research team known as the Molecular Taxonomy of Breast Cancer International Consortium, there are 10 different types of breast cancer. Each of these types respond better to specific treatments.
The research team analyzed 997 tumors from nearly 2,000 women in Canada and the UK who were diagnosed with breast cancer 5 to 10 years ago. However, they didn’t just look at gene mutations; they also took note of the participants' gene activity, age when they were first diagnosed, and survival rate.
After around five years, the researchers were able to classify the tumors into 10 categories, which were then cross-examined with a new set of breast cancer tumors. The results confirmed their previous findings. Apparently, there are some tumor subgroups that respond well to certain treatments. For example, the researchers noted that tumors in two of the categories have fewer DNA abberations. This means they can respond better to new innovations in cancer treatment.
Armed with this information, the study authors hope that cancer patients will now have a better chance of getting the right treatment earlier, thus raising their life expectancy. "Our results will pave the way for doctors in the future to diagnose the type of breast cancer a woman has, the types of drugs that will work and those that won’t, in a much more precise way than is currently possible," said Dr. Carlos Caldas, one of the co-authors of the study.
(Photo of woman by Gail Rau via sxc.hu; phot of pink ribbon by Nikki K via Wikimedia Commons)