Most breast cancer patients with more than 10 nodes that are affected by the cancer have a poor prognosis, yet some survive long-term. Physicians now believe that certain genes in the breast cancer tissue, removed at diagnosis, can help them predict which patients will survive.
With this information, doctors can recommend the most appropriate therapy for an individual patient, for example sparing a woman with a poor prognosis the rigors that accompany aggressive chemotherapy, and enabling her to receive novel treatments that might work, according to Dr. Melody Cobleigh, oncologist, professor of medicine and director of the Comprehensive Breast Center at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Lukes Medical Center in Chicago.
Cobleigh presented her research results on May 31 at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting in Chicago. Until now, such studies could only be performed on recently biopsied tissue that would then be frozen for preservation. Routine handling of cancer specimens does not involve freezing. Cobleigh and colleagues at Genomic Health examined the breast cancer tissue of 79 patients who had been treated at Rush between 1979 and 1999 and whose tissues had been processed in the usual manner (formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded). The patients had been followed for a median of 15 years.
Chris Martin | EurekAlert!
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