A “landmark” study that divides types of breast cancer into 10 new categories could change the way the disease is treated forever, scientists have said.
Researchers examined the genetic make-up of 2,000 tumours in what was the largest such study of breast cancer tissue in the world, the culmination of decades of work.
They found that instead of one disease, breast cancer can be seen as an ‘umbrella’ term for at least 10 separate diseases.
It is hoped the categorisation of breast cancer, teamed with the discovery of new breast cancer genes, could provide more targeted treatments for women in the future and allow doctors to better predict patients’ chances of survival.
The discovery of new genes could also help scientists to find out how gene faults cause the cancer to develop and lead to the creation of new types of drugs.
The research was carried out by Cancer Research UK scientists and its results are published in science journal Nature.
Dr Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: “This is a landmark study that really changes the way we think about breast cancer - no longer as one disease but actually as 10 quite distinct diseases, dependent on which genes are really switched on and which ones aren’t for an individual woman.”