Study: Two Genes Can Help Detect Breast Cancer Prognosis

breast cancer genes
Science & Medicine

A study from the Institute of Cancer Research in London has identified two genes that make women with breast cancer more susceptible to die from the devastating disease. [1]

As it stands, 12% of women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. This discovery, however, will hopefully help tackle one of the highest mortality rates of any cancer (aside from lung cancer).

The researchers at ICR in London studied 2,000 women with breast cancer. It was found that those whose tumors followed a specific pattern, in conjunction with having a specific pair of genes, were 3 times as likely to die in 10 years from breast cancer as compared to others with breast cancer.

The tumors that were most lethal, according to researchers, were those that were high in the gene F12 and low in the gene STC2. For this study, the scientists focused on HER-2 positive breast cancers, which account for about 20% of cases.

Paul Huang, lead researcher of the study, said:

“Survival rates for breast cancer are now much higher than they were a few decades ago, but the disease remains deadly once it has spread round the body. Our study sheds light on how cancer cells unstick themselves from healthy tissue, and it could help pick out women at high risk of their cancer spreading and becoming fatal.”

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The study, which was published in the journal Oncotarget, aims to use this information to help benefit the lives of women with breast cancer–or those who are susceptible to it. It is possible that in the future, doctors will be able to test for aggressive cancers at an earlier stage.

It may also effect the course of treatment doctors take when helping women who are struggling with breast cancer. For example, they may find that women with these specific genes need different round of treatments altogether to enhance their survival rates, as opposed to conventional chemotherapy uses.

Huang, however, is optimistic about the research and major successes they have had in treating breast cancer thus far. He says that treatment has improved vastly over recent years, though it is still difficult to contain it once it has spread throughout the body.

It should be noted that, while the researchers did achieve positive results, this study was in vitro:

“Our study demonstrates the potential of in vitro cell adhesion screens as a novel approach for identifying prognostic factors for disease outcome.”


[1] WebMD

[3] Medical Daily