A new finding in the largest and most comprehensive study regarding breast cancer may be able to predict whether sufferers of the affliction will experience a relapse upon diagnosis. Twenty percent of breast cancer cases recur, and have a different genetic profile upon recurrence that can make them harder to treat than the original case. The new study, however, will be able to predict a relapse very far in advance and gives hope that recurrences will be able to be treated with drugs. Researchers are also hopeful that this discovery will lead to a way for doctors to prevent relapse all together.
“We have found that some of the genetic mutations that drive breast cancers that relapse are relatively uncommon amongst cancers that do not relapse at the point of primary diagnosis,” says Lucy Yates, MD, a clinical research oncologist from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, United Kingdom.
“We believe that the differences we have seen reflect genetic differences that can predispose a cancer to return, combined with mutations acquired throughout the period from first diagnosis to the subsequent relapse,” she added.
Breast cancer recurrence is quite common, even after the initial case has been treated. It usual occurs within 5 years of the original diagnosis, and can manifest itself in the lymph nodes, bones, liver, lungs, or brain. Up until this study, it has been nearly impossible to predict the possibility and severity of recurrence. With this new research, we are one step closer to treating and possibly preventing breast cancer recurrence.