With 2.5 million breast cancer U.S. survivors, doctors have a better understanding of this particular health problem. A new research is going to boost the number of survivors as experts identified four types of breast cancer.
The first comprehensive genetic analysis of breast cancer finally delivered results. Experts found there are four types of breast cancer, findings that will definitely make the treatment even more effective. For the breast cancer patient the new study represents a milestone that will help develop new treatments.
On Sunday, a study looking at the breast cancer DNA of 825 patients was published by the journal Nature. Experts with the Washington University School of Medicine say they managed to identify four types of breast cancer by looking for abnormalities in the DNA.
Part of the Cancer Genome Atlas federal project, the new breast cancer study aimed to map all genetic abnormalities in common cancers. One of the four types of breast cancer identified is a deadly form where tumor-forming cells are similar to basal cells in the skin and sweat glands. This particular type of breast cancer was ruled by experts to be more similar to ovarian cancer and one lung cancer.
Two other types of breast cancer are developed in the milk ducts by estrogen impacting the luminal cells. Scientists labeled these two types of breast cancer Luminal A and B. Patients with Luminal A could benefit from an estrogen-blocking treatment while Luminal B patients could improve with chemotherapy and hormonal therapy.
Fourth type of breast cancer is called by experts HER2-enriched. While oftentimes breast cancers present a gene copied in multiple instances (HER2), scientists have found that the designated drug, Herceptin, is not doing all that well in treating all these tumors.
By categorizing cancers based on their genetic origins, rather than where they can be located in the patient’s body, personalized medicine can be more effective. Roche Holding and Pfizer already have two such drugs, Zelboraf and Xalkori, targeting genetic mutations. So far, there are 72 therapies based on genetic mutations, but the new breast cancer study is going to boost their numbers.
“With this study, we’re one giant step closer to understanding the genetic origins of the four major subtypes of breast cancer” said Dr. Matthew Ellis, co-leader of the groundbreaking study. “Now we can investigate which drugs work best for patients based on the genetic profiles of their tumors” the scientist added.