Aggressive Breast Cancer: A New Gene Marker

Summary: A new marker that identifies a more aggressive form of breast cancer has been identified. Tumors in which breast cancer stem and progenitor (first) cells have abnormalities in the PI3/Akt signaling pathway are more likely to have spread to regional lymph nodes. This was independent of size, grade, and hormone receptor status of the breast cancer.

My take: Previous studies have reported inconsistent results regarding this signalling pathway. Because stem/progenitor cells make only a small proportion of the breast cancer cells, they probably needed to be tested independently of the primary tumor. Whole tumor testing may miss these important stem cells. Perhaps in the future, we will have one more prognostic tool for patients with breast cancer.

The small print: The material presented herein is informational only, and is not designed to provide specific guidance for an individual. Please check with a valued health care provider with any questions or concerns. As for me, I am a Harvard- , Yale- and UPenn-educated radiation oncologist, and I practice in the Seattle, WA (USA) area. I feel genuinely privileged to be able to share with you. If you enjoyed today’s offering, please consider clicking the follow button at the bottom of this page.

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Reference: JAMA Surgery, 24 July 2013 (online publication)

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Harvard AB Yale MD UPenn Radiation Oncology Radiation Oncologist, Seattle area

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