Women given new treat­ment hope in breast can­cer fight

Wilmslow Express - - NEWS - Dean Kirby

THOU­SANDS of women with an early form of breast can­cer could avoid gru­elling ra­dio­ther­apy in fu­ture thanks to a ground-break­ing dis­cov­ery.

Sci­en­tists in Manch­ester have iden­ti­fied a way to pre­dict which pa­tients di­ag­nosed with the early stages of the dis­ease will go on to de­velop a more in­va­sive ill­ness.

Re­searchers at the Manch­ester Can­cer Re­search Cen­tre used tu­mour sam­ples taken from more than 300 pa­tients who had can­cer cells in their milk ducts and found those who tested pos­i­tive for a key pro­tein – HER2 – were more likely to see their can­cer re­turn.

Can­cer doc­tors can­not cur­rently pre­dict which cases will progress – mean­ing that all women with Duc­tal Car­ci­noma In Situ (DCIS) have to un­dergo surgery and some­times un­nec­es­sary ra­dio­ther­apy.

Pro­fes­sor Nigel Bun­dred, from the Uni­ver­sity of Manch­ester and Wythen­shawe Hos­pi­tal, who led the study, said: “Our find­ings sug­gest that the ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion from testing HER2 could al­low us to bet­ter iden­tify those most at risk from an in­va­sive re­lapse.

“Th­ese tests are cheap and easy to carry out and could help some pa­tients avoid un­nec­es­sary treat­ment.”

DCIS is a pre­cur­sor to breast can­cer.

With­out treat­ment, half of pa­tients will have their dis­ease come back – ei­ther as DCIS or as in­va­sive breast can­cer.

The study was de­signed to find out which DCIS cases were most likely to re­oc­cur as in­va­sive can­cer.

They found that pa­tients whose tu­mours tested pos­i­tive for two pro­teins - the oe­stro­gen and pro­ges­terone re­cep­tors – but neg­a­tive for HER2 were less likely to see their can­cer come back.

Other types of DCIS were sig­nif­i­cantly more likely to re­cur as in­va­sive breast can­cer.

Out of 314 women who took part in the study, 57 saw their dis­ease re­turn and 22 de­vel­oped in­va­sive can­cer.

HER2 pos­i­tive breast can­cers tend to grow more quickly than HER2 neg­a­tive can­cers.

But testing for HER2 is cur­rently only rou­tine for pa­tients with more ad­vanced forms of the dis­ease.

The study sug­gests testing for HER2 could now help doc­tors in­di­vid­u­alise treat­ment for pa­tients with DCIS.

Prof Bun­dred said: “This re­search could have po­ten­tial benefits for thou­sands of women.”

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