According to an international team of researchers that analysed frozen breast cancer samples from 2,000 women, breast cancer is not one but 10 different diseases. This study could prove to be revolutionary in its treatment. Moreover, drugs can be tailored according to the type of breast cancer which would help in predicting survival more accurately. Researchers however, said that it will take three years for these findings to be implemented and used in hospitals.
The study was published in the journal, Nature. Genetics of frozen breast cancer samples were taken at hospitals in Canada and UK. The researchers studied the genetics of tumour cells in great detail to find out which genes were working, which were hyperactive and which were dying gradually.
The researchers found out thatthe ways in different kind of cells changed when they are cancerous can be grouped into 10 categories – IntClust one to 10. Every group would have spelled out (similar) genes. More so, survival rate of various women with same type of breast cancers will be similar too.
This is the reason why lead researcher professor, Carlos Caldas, in BBC News said that breast cancer is not but one disease. He added, “Our results will pave the way for doctors in the future to diagnose the type of breast cancer a woman has, the types of drugs that will work and those that won’t, in a much more precise manner than is currently possible."
As of now, breast cancers are classified according to what they look under the microscope and tests conducted. Most women with oestrogen receptors respond well to hormone therapies while those with a Her2 receptor can be looked after with Herceptin.
Over 70% people with breast cancer respond well to hormone therapies but reaction might vary. Some do well whereas others respond horribly. This is the reason we need classification, said Caldas.
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