According to scientists, targeted treatments for breast cancer are a giant step closer after the latest study has revealed new insights into the genetics of the disease. This has been the most comprehensive analysis ever carried out on breast cancer and has revealed that there are 4 major sub types. The study suggests that one of the most deadly of these sub types, known to be basal like, is actually more similar, genetically, to ovarian cancer than other breast cancer tumours.
In the UK alone, around 48,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, and this latest research could well lead to treatments that are more targeted. It also opens up the possibility of more effective treatment options in the future, perhaps even using drugs that are already being used in the fight against ovarian cancer.
The researchers, from the Washington University School of Medicine, were looking at the biological details of the tumours, rather than primarily focusing on whereabouts in the body the cancer arises. It also discovered that just a single glass of wine a day could be enough to trigger breast cancer and thanks to a protein breakthrough it could also be possible for women undergoing chemotherapy to still be able to conceive.
The main hope of this research is that the genetic weakness in cancer will be discovered, which in turn will lead to more targeted drugs being used. Dr Matthew Ellis is the co-leader of the study, and he has said that with this new study, they are one huge step closer to understanding better the genetic origins of each of the 4 major breast cancer subtypes, and that they could now investigate which drugs worked best for who based on their tumours’ genetic profiles.
The tumours from 825 breast cancer sufferers were analysed by the researchers looking for abnormalities. Altogether, it was found that when viewed this way breast cancer appeared to fall into 4 main classes. One of the classes was similar to ovarian cancer, suggesting that it could be driven by similar developments biologically.