Dr. Chung describes the most promising breast cancer study currently being researched.
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What Is Currently The Most Promising Breast Cancer Research Study? Dr. Alice Chung: One of the biggest breakthroughs in cancer research in the past decades has been genetic profiling of breast cancer tumours. This is something that was probably first, it came about early 2000. Gene expression profiling is looking at the tumour and assessing the tumour DNA for expression, overexpression, underexpression of certain types of genes that are cancer related. The advantage to this is that it individualizes each patient’s cancer based on the genetic make-up of the cancer. So, no longer are we just looking at tumour size and tumour histological type and grade to kind a figure out what the prognosis of this cancer is going to be. We actually have gene analysis of the tumour to give us more accurate diagnostic and prognostic information. So, it’s the gene expression profiling of cancers has revolutionized the way that we classify breast cancer. Not only is it more accurate and more specific but it can also give us a better idea of how is the patient’s prognosis going to be and how might this patient respond to certain types of therapy. So, there are two main commercially available types of gene profile assays. One is the Oncotype DX and the other is MammaPrint and so, both of these have been validated in large studies to be accurate predictors of prognosis. The Oncotype DX specifically, has been shown to predict response to therapy. So, it really helps us tailor treatment better that we have ever been able to do before. That’s important to patients because never before have we been able to use someone’s own individual tumour information to kind of give them an idea of whether or not they need chemotherapy. Whether or not their survival could be improved based on something like hormonal therapy alone. I think it gives women hope that they’ll have a better idea of what the occurrence risk is going to be. It’s just a more accurate way than we’ve ever had before of telling a woman “This is what we think your occurrence risk is going to be. This is what we think your benefit is going to be from something like chemotherapy or hormonal therapy.”