Scientists at King’s College London believe they have created a test that is able to identify which women with lymph-node positive breast cancer are most likely to develop incurable secondary tumours.
As a result they can also identify the women at a lower risk. Because those with lymph-node positive breast cancer are often known to experience worse outcomes with the disease than those who don’t see the cancer spread to their lymph nodes, they are usually given more intensive treatments, such as chemotherapy.
However, the study found that of the group identified as being at a high risk, around one quarter were unlikely to develop secondary tumours within ten years.
This means that doctors could have a way of identifying the women at greatest risk if they have lymph-node positive cancer, allowing them to receive the necessary, more targeted treatments, while those at a much lower risk could be spared the likes of chemotherapy and its side effects.
The researchers now want to carry out larger studies to validate their findings, but it has the potential to make a significant difference to the way in which lymph-node positive breast cancer is approached in the future.
Chief executive at Breast Cancer Now, which funded the research, Baroness Delyth Morgan described the new test as a “highly exciting prospect”.
“A new score that could identify certain women with primary breast cancer in need of more or less aggressive treatments could play a pivotal role in ensuring they are given the best possible chance of survival,” she added.
There have been other exciting findings in recent breast cancer studies, with research in the US recently identifying an existing drug that could help fight triple-negative breast cancer.
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