Novel Breast Cancer Test Associates Immune ‘Hotspots’ To Increased Survival

Novel Breast Cancer Test Associates Immune ‘Hotspots’ To Increased Survival
In a new study entitled “Beyond immune density: critical role of spatial heterogeneity in estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer,” researchers developed a new test based on automated spatial imaging and statistics that measures ER-negative breast cancer patients' immune responses with increased accuracy by determining immune “hotspots” within the tumor. The study was published in the journal Modern Pathology. Patients can be diagnosed with different types of breast cancer according to their response to certain hormones. While 75% of all breast cancers are positive for estrogen-receptor, i.e., its growth is dependent on the hormone estrogen and is associated with a good prognosis when treated with hormone therapy, estrogen-receptor (ER)-negative patients exhibit a poor prognosis. In this study, a team of researchers at The Institute of Cancer Research in London analyzed tumor samples from 245 women with ER-negative breast cancer with a novel combination of tools: a high-throughput imaging analysis allied with a spatial statistics. While with the former technique the authors generated a spatial recognition of where within the tumor cancer and immune cells are localized, the latter method allowed researchers to detect and quantify immune “hotspots” (where there is a particular elevated concentration of these cells). Notably, understanding the spatial recognition of these immune hotspots in a systematic way is critical, since it is suggested that higher infiltration yields more favorable clinical outcomes of ER-negative breast cancer patients. The team discovered that the immune response against tumors is better assessed by determining immune hotspots (where immune cells are surrounding cancer cells), rather then just measuring the total number o
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