Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Breast cancer: Reducing the risk of unnecessary chemo

Date:
November 9, 2010
Source:
National Research Council of Canada
Summary:
Researchers have developed a tool to determine which breast cancer patients have little risk of their disease recurring. The tool -- an algorithm that identifies "gene expression signatures" or biomarkers that can predict low risk tumors with 87-100 percent accuracy in different groups of patients -- has the potential to virtually eliminate unnecessary chemotherapy.

A fundamental principle of medicine is: "first, do no harm." However, for doctors who treat breast cancer, this is easier said than done. Every year, almost 22,000 Canadian women are diagnosed with breast cancer -- their treatment usually involves surgery to remove a tumour and then chemotherapy to reduce the risk of cancer returning. But studies show that for most patients with early stage breast cancer, chemotherapy following surgery is totally unnecessary and therefore does more harm than good.

Related Articles


Identifying whether a patient's cancer is at low or high risk of recurring would help doctors reduce unnecessary treatments for low risk patients. This could have a huge impact on a patient's quality of life and also significantly reduce the cost of health care.

Currently, most doctors assess a patient's prognosis using their age and "tumour grade," but this approach doesn't work very well. Now, NRC researchers have developed a tool to determine which breast cancer patients have little risk of their disease recurring. The tool -- an algorithm that identifies "gene expression signatures" or biomarkers that can predict low risk tumours with 87-100 percent accuracy in different groups of patients -- has the potential to virtually eliminate unnecessary chemotherapy.

To conduct their study, which appeared in a recent issue of Nature Communications, Dr. Edwin Wang and his colleagues at the NRC Biotechnology Research Institute in Montreal (NRC-BRI) used published data on gene expression profiles from more than 1000 breast cancer samples. "Every tumour has a gene expression profile, which indicates how the patient's genes have changed," he explains. "We combined this data with information on the patient's outcome -- such as whether the original tumour spread and how long the person survived -- to develop our algorithm."

The NRC team now hopes to see its algorithm applied in a clinical setting. "We have a provisional patent on the intellectual property and we would like to get a Canadian company to license it and turn it into a kit format," says Dr. Maureen O'Connor of NRC-BRI, who co-authored the study. "We've had interest expressed from more than one company so far."

Dr. O'Connor adds that the NRC algorithm could be adapted to other types of cancer where over-treatment is common, such as prostate cancer. "Prostate cancer in particular is usually not an aggressive disease, but the treatment can be extreme," she says. "We would like to develop a test that can predict with 99 percent accuracy whether a patient's cancer is not aggressive, so they can make the best decision about whether to proceed with treatment right away."

In future, the algorithm may also help pave the way toward personalized therapy for cancer patients. "On average, every cancer patient has 14-16 mutated genes," says Dr. Wang. "Based on their unique genetic signature, we hope to figure out which mutations to target to block the cancer process in each patient."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Research Council of Canada. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jie Li, Anne E.G. Lenferink, Yinghai Deng, Catherine Collins, Qinghua Cui, Enrico O. Purisima, Maureen D. O'Connor-McCourt, Edwin Wang. Identification of high-quality cancer prognostic markers and metastasis network modules. Nature Communications, 2010; 1 (4): 1 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1033

Cite This Page:

National Research Council of Canada. "Breast cancer: Reducing the risk of unnecessary chemo." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 November 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101108171541.htm>.
National Research Council of Canada. (2010, November 9). Breast cancer: Reducing the risk of unnecessary chemo. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101108171541.htm
National Research Council of Canada. "Breast cancer: Reducing the risk of unnecessary chemo." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101108171541.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Christmas Kissing Good for Health

Christmas Kissing Good for Health

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) Scientists in Amsterdam say couples transfer tens of millions of microbes when they kiss, encouraging healthy exposure to bacteria. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) Cambridge scientists have unravelled the genetic code of a rare tapeworm that lived inside a patient's brain for at least four year. Researchers hope it will present new opportunities to diagnose and treat this invasive parasite. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A touch-free phone developed in Israel enables the mobility-impaired to operate smart phones with just a movement of the head. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) Polish scientists isolate bacteria from earthworm intestines which they say may be used in antibiotics and cancer treatments. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins