Test Being Developed to Determine Risk of Recurrence in Triple-negative Breast Cancer

Test Being Developed to Determine Risk of Recurrence in Triple-negative Breast Cancer
A new test — based on genetic markers of immune response and with potential to be assayed in tumor biopsies — holds promise for identifying patients with triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) who are at lower risk of disease recurrence, and therefore would benefit from less aggressive treatments. Experiments are underway or being planned to confirm the test can be used to predict each patient's outlook. Researchers also hope it could be used for other types of breast cancers or other cancers that have similar immune responses. The study, "A Multigene Assay Determines Risk of Recurrence in Patients with Triple-Negative Breast Cancer," was published in the journal Cancer Research. Chemotherapy tends to be the only option for TNBC patients, following breast cancer surgery. But while approximately 60% of these patients will live more than five years without the disease returning, the remaining 40% will have a rapid recurrence of cancer with a peak at three years after diagnosis. No tests are available to assess the risk of recurrence in these patients, so all receive aggressive chemotherapy that can include up to four different agents and six months of treatment. "That's significant because chemotherapy can lead to long-term heart and nerve problems," Katherine Varley, PhD, from Huntsman Cancer Institute and the University of Utah, and the study's principal investigator, said in a news release. "If we can understand which patients need aggressive treatment and which patients will likely do well with less aggressive treatment, we could make a big difference in their lives," she said. Varley and her collaborators developed a test that scores patients according to how much their immune systems have been activated in response to TNBC. These scores can p
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