20 April 2012
The biggest genetic study of breast cancer ever has revealed this form of cancer is actually ten distinct diseases.
Under the microscope, breast cancer cells look very similar. Now, the detailed genetic mapping of tumours has shown the cancer is better considered as a group of ten different diseases based on which genes have been mutated, which genes are working in overdrive and which are being shut down. Scientists have named the overall group IntClust 1-10.
Pinpointing the varied ways in which the cancerous cells change could revolutionise treatment, although further studies are needed to confirm the benefits re-classification could have for patients.
Lead researcher Prof Carlos Caldas said "Our results will pave the way for doctors in the future to diagnose the type of breast cancer a woman has, the types of drugs that will work and those that won't, in a much more precise way than is currently possible."
The report is the latest in a flurry of breakthroughs related to the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer, see previous news.