Scientists have been trying to better predict if and when women’s breast cancer could come back using statistical tools.
A team consisting of researchers from the University of Cambridge and Stanford University has examined the patterns of genetic changes within tumours from nearly 2,000 women with breast cancer.
These patients’ cancer progress has also been followed for over 20 years, including whether their cancer recurred.
Scientists are working with the collected genetic analysis information to create a routine test affordable in hospitals which could help predict recurrence risk more accurately.
“In this study, we’ve delved deeper into breast cancer molecular subtypes, so we can more accurately identify who might be at risk of relapsing and uncover new ways of treating them,” said Carlos Caldas, lead researcher at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute.
The team previously identified 11 different molecular subgroups of breast cancer, each with distinct clinical trajectories that differ from one person to another.
“We’ve shown that the molecular nature of a woman’s breast cancer determines how their disease could progress, not just for the first five years, but also later, even if it comes back,” said Oscar Rueda, first author of the paper that published Wednesday on the scientific journal Nature.
Researchers noted that more researches are needed to understand how to tailor treatments to a patient’s individual tumour biology before the test can be introduced universally.
The team is also investigating personalised treatment options for different breast cancer subtypes.