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Test predicts breast cancer relapse


A new breast cancer screening test could help doctors decide whether a patient is likely to need post-surgery radiotherapy or not.

By identifying aggressive characteristics of cancer cells in the milk ducts (DCIS), doctors could isolate those women who will need to go through a course of radiotherapy following surgery in order to prevent a possible relapse and those who are deemed not at risk of recurrence.

Researchers funded by Cancer Research UK identified common characteristics of DCIS which resulted in a 40% increased likelihood of relapse, the study, published in the British Journal of Cancer found.

Study author Professor Sarah Pinder, based at King’s College London, said larger studies would be needed to draw up a reliable system of identification.

“Screening is incredibly effective at identifying DCIS but we don’t have a reliable system to identify which cancers are likely to be aggressive and need further treatment,” she said.

“We believe that our test will help identify a group of women who are at a much greater risk of the disease returning after surgery. We need to confirm this in larger studies but it’s reasonable to suggest that this group of women should have the disease completely removed and receive radiotherapy to help prevent the disease returning.”

Copyright Press Association 2010

British Journal of Cancer

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