Cape Times

CPUT lecturer leads breast cancer study


A SENIOR lecturer in the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) department of biomedical sciences is the lead author of a new study which holds great promise for women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer.

Dr Kathleen Grant and her co-authors were among a group of women in science who were recently featured on the cover of the SA Journal of Science.

The issue was dedicated to women in science and emanated from the 2nd Internatio­nal Women in Science without Borders conference which was held in Johannesbu­rg.

Grant said the results from the study allowed for the molecular identifica­tion of a group of women with what is called luminal A breast cancer, who after having their tumours surgically removed, have a low-risk of distant cancer recurrence and do not have to undergo chemothera­py, thereby safely avoiding the unpleasant side effects of this treatment.

“Conversely, we are able to identify tumours which will respond to chemothera­py or other more aggressive treatments, with greater accuracy than when using convention­al laboratory testing techniques.

“Combining convention­al laboratory diagnosis with this new genomic testing ensures that the right treatment is given to the right patient, and oncologist­s can avoid over-treating early stage breast cancer patients who will gain no benefit from chemothera­peutic regimes,” said Grant.

She said that to diagnose breast cancer, a sample of tissue is removed and sent to the laboratory where a histopatho­logist stains and examines the tissue microscopi­cally.

“Breast cancer genomic tests further analyse the tissue sample from the cancer tumour to see the expression level of certain genes.

“This level of activity relates to the behaviour of the cancer and we can calculate the risk of the cancer coming back (recurrence), as well as predict if the cancer will respond to chemothera­py or not.”

Grant, who has worked at CPUT for 12 years, said her field of cytopathol­ogy focused on the diagnosis of cancers and their precursor lesions.

“I’ve always been interested in how cancer develops and how to prevent it. Breast cancer lies close to my heart as it’s mainly a women’s disease. Men do get breast cancer too, and like most women in South Africa I have family and close friends who have survived or succumbed to breast cancer,” Grant said.

Oncologist­s can avoid over-treating early stage breast cancer patients Dr Kathleen Grant Senior Lecturer, CPUT

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Dr Kathleen Grant

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