There has been a breakthrough for women who have had breast cancer and are concerned about their cancer returning.
Researchers have found that immune cells clustering around the breast cancer tumour could lead to a greater level of recurrence in some women, whereas those who didn’t experience this, have a lower chance of recurrence.
Breast cancer patients whose immune cells showed the clustering behaviour when they had breast cancer had a 23 per cent higher chance it would return in 5 years, and a 25 per cent higher chance of having their breast cancer return within 10 years.
One of the benefits of this finding is that it may help to identify which women would benefit from radiotherapy and which ones could give it a miss and get on with healing.
Women with oestrogen sensitive breast cancer are most at risk of dying if it recurs after about five years. Targeting this subgroup of women who have immune clustering as part of the oestrogen sensitive breast cancer means they can be singled out for radiotherapy treatment which may help the risk of relapse.
Lead scientist, Dr Yinyin Yuan, said: “Larger studies are needed before an immune hotspot test could come to the clinic, but in future such a test could pick out patients at the highest risk of their cancer returning. It might also be possible to predict which patients would respond to immunotherapy.”
In the future doctors could use an automated tool which could analyse the degree of immune cell clustering to predict the likelihood of the cancer returning.
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