New research from Cancer Research UK could revolutionise the way women with breast cancer are diagnosed and treated in the future, and lead to the development of new targeted treatments.
The research, which studied 2000 tumour samples from women with breast cancer, has reclassified breast cancer into 10 new categories. The categories, or subgroups, are based on the common genetic features of the tumours and how aggressively they grow and spread.
“These results pave the way for doctors in the future to diagnose the type of breast cancer a woman has, and the types of drugs that will work and those that won’t, in a much more precise way than is currently possible,” the researchers said.
The next stage of the research is to investigate how tumours in each of the subgroups behave, and what causes them to grow and spread. This information will help doctors to better understand which cancers require aggressive treatment, such as chemotherapy, and which could be treated with less aggressive treatments.
It will also help scientists to develop new drugs that specifically target the actions of each of the tumour subgroups.
It has been known for a long time that breast cancer isn’t just one disease. There are already targeted treatments for some particular types of breast cancer. Herceptin, which is used to treat HER2-positive breast cancer, is one the most well-known of these.
The development of new targeted treatments will provide doctors with better treatment options for women.
The research has also discovered several new breast cancer genes, which may help in the development of new types of drugs.
It is important to note that the development of any new treatments as a result of this research is a long way off.
“This research won’t affect women diagnosed with breast cancer today,” the researchers said. “But in the future, breast cancer patients will receive treatment targeted to the genetic fingerprint of their tumour.”