It’s a given fact that having to go through something as difficult as breast cancer can be a journey of huge turmoil for women. And while many women make it through the tedious journey, most of them face the danger of relapse for as long as two decades after the initial diagnosis. That alone can be a cause of great stress to these women. However, new research has come up with ways to identify this threat and possibly treat these women who face the threat.
Doctors often rely on factors like the size and grade of a tumour at diagnosis, lymph node involvement and the patient's age to help determine if there are any risks of relapse. However, the understanding of why relapses occur is still very poor. The researchers analysed data from over 3,000 breast cancer patients between the years 1977 and 2005. More than 2000 of these cases provided the researchers with data based on molecular levels. This research was then used to build a computer model that could identify “exceedingly high risk of late distant relapse”.
“These are the patients that remain in jeopardy of experiencing a relapse after their initial diagnosis,” said the lead author. “Until now, there has been no good way to identify this subset of women who might benefit from ongoing screening or treatment.” Talking about molecular treatment, she said, “Many of these genomic driver alterations can potentially be therapeutically targeted, suggesting the possibility of new treatment options, though this will need to be evaluated in the context of clinical trials.”
“This information can be used to refine risk estimates and improve follow-up and stratification of patients with breast cancer - for example by determining which patients might benefit from longer or different types of treatment,” she concluded.