Novel test to predict breast cancer metastasis

March 28th, 2009 - 12:54 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Mar 28 (ANI): Researchers from NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center have identified a new marker that may lead to the development of a novel test to predict breast cancer metastasis.

The research team has identified a marker called TMEM, for Tumor Microenvironment of Metastasis, density of which is associated with the development of distant organ metastasis via the bloodstream - the most common cause of death from breast cancer.

“Currently, anyone with a breast cancer diagnosis fears the worst - that the cancer will spread and threaten their lives,” said Dr. Joan G. Jones, professor of clinical pathology and laboratory medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and director of Anatomic Pathology at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

“A tissue test for metastatic risk could alleviate those worries, and prevent toxic and costly measures like radiation and chemotherapy,” Jones added.

“If patients can be better classified as either low risk or high risk for metastasis, therapies can be custom tailored to patients, preventing over-treatment or under-treatment of the disease,” said first author Dr. Brian D. Robinson, resident in Anatomic Pathology at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

During the study, the researchers analysed the tissue samples of 30 patients with invasive ductal carcinoma of the breast who developed systemic, distant-organ metastases.

These samples were compared to matched controls that had only localized disease i.e., invasive ductal carcinoma limited to the breast or with regional lymph node metastasis only.

They found that TMEM density was more than double in the group of patients who developed systemic metastases compared with the patients with only localized breast cancer.

“Traditionally, the likelihood of breast cancer metastasis is estimated based on tumor size, tumor differentiation - how similar or dissimilar the tumor is compared to normal breast tissue - and whether it has spread to the lymph nodes,” said Jones.

“While these are useful measures, TMEM density directly reflects the blood-borne mechanism of metastasis, and therefore may prove to be more specific and directly relevant.”

The findings appear in the journal Clinical Cancer Research. (ANI)

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