Breast cancer study set to revolutionise diagnosis and treatment for patients

Researchers from the UK have “re-written the rulebook” * on breast cancer research with what is being called a ‘landmark’ study.

They have reclassified the disease into ten categories, where formerly it was understood there were four, based on the genetic fingerprints of breast cancer tumours from 2,000 women in the UK and Canada.

The implications of this study are significant: Women with breast cancer can now be identified as having a more specific disease – one of ten under the breast cancer “umbrella” – and their prognosis, and subsequent treatment options will be better defined as a result.

“The next stage is to discover how tumours in each subgroup behave – for example do they grow or spread quickly?” said study co-lead Professor Carlos Caldas.

“And we need to carry out more research in the laboratory and in patients to confirm the most effective treatment plan for each of the ten subtypes of breast cancer.”

Australia’s own Professor Jane Visvader, leading breast cancer researcher from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne has said “These findings are a major step forward in the field. The discovery of more specific subgroups of breast cancer holds great promise for identifying better drug targets and tailoring therapy to improve outcomes for breast cancer patients.”

Outside of trials for new cancer drugs, this finding could take up to five years to have a positive impact on breast cancer patients.

The study has been published in acclaimed scientific journal  Nature.

*For more information, please see Cancer Research UK’s press release.