Changes in Gene Expression May Hint at Relapse Risk in ER-positive Patients on Hormone Therapy, Study Finds

Changes in Gene Expression May Hint at Relapse Risk in ER-positive Patients on Hormone Therapy, Study Finds
Specific changes in gene expression might help to predict the risk of relapse in estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer patients under hormone therapy, a study reports. The study, "Molecular changes during extended neoadjuvant letrozole treatment of breast cancer: distinguishing acquired resistance from dormant tumors," was published in Breast Cancer Research. Most ER-positive breast cancer patients are given hormone therapies that work to reduce tumor size and lessen their risk of dying from their cancer. However, a relapse risk remains constant in these patient for many years, even decades, probably because some tumor cells become resistant to the therapy and stay in the body as dormant tumors. The mechanisms that lead to acquired resistance and cause a dormant tumor to start growing again are unknown and difficult to examine. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh studied 62 breast cancer patients who did not undergo surgery – either because they declined or were unfit – and were treated with Femara (letrozole), a common hormone therapy, for at least four months and up to 45 months (almost four years). They took tumor samples before the women started therapy, and again within the first few weeks and then
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