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Breast cancer relapse test developed

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Researchers in the US have identified a genetic test which could indicate whether breast cancer patients given a commonly used chemotherapy treatment are likely to relapse.

A team of researchers from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston revealed that patients who were prone to relapse when treated with anthracyclines were found to have high levels of activity from two specific genes within their tumours which is thought to increase the likelihood of cancer returning.

A study was carried out looking at the genetic make-up of tumours taken from women who had already undergone treatment. Upon analysing the molecular properties of patients and their tumours, the team found that “personalised” treatments could be identified in order to cut the odds of a patient relapsing.

By checking tumours in advance of any treatment, unnecessary and potentially useless chemotherapy could be avoided and more personalised cancer therapies could be used in order to ensure successful treatment.

The findings, published online in the journal Nature Medicine, go some way to discovering why some patients respond well to chemotherapy treatments, such as anthracyclines, while others often relapse.

Meg McArthur, from Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said: “This research is a step towards discovering why some patients benefit more than others from a common form of chemotherapy. Research like this is important for identifying the appropriate treatment for individual patients.

“These are early, small-scale study results and more research is now needed before the benefits could be seen by patients.”

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