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New Technique for Breast Cancer Risk Assessment

Company Report

April,6 2016: Researchers of Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) and co-workers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) have diagnosed a molecular marker in normal breast tissue which can forecast a woman’s possibility for growing breast cancer, the leading cause of death in women with cancer globally.

The study constitutes on Poliak’s prior research conclusion that women already diagnosed as having a high risk of developing cancer especially those with a mutation called BRCA1 or BRCA2 or women who did not give birth before their 30s had a greater number of mammary gland progenitor cells.

Currently, Polyak, Tamimi, and their colleagues tested biopsies, some seized as many as 4 decades ago, from 302 volunteers in the Nurses’ Health Study and the Nurses’ Health Study II who had been identified with benign breast disease. 

The scientists compared tissue from the 69 women who subsequently developed cancer to the tissue from the 233 women who did not. They concluded that women were 5 times as likely to grow cancer if they had a high percentage of Ki67, a molecular marker which identifies proliferating cells, in the cells which line the milk-producing lobules and mammary ducts. These cells, known as the mammary epithelium, go through drastic changes during a woman’s life, and the majority of breast cancers arises in these tissues.

Doctors previously test breast tumors for Ki67 levels, which can notify outcomes about treatment, but this is the first time researchers have been able to associate Ki67 to precancerous tissue and use it as a predictive tool.

According to Pharmaion’s report,  "United States Breast Cancer Diagnostic Devices Market Opportunities, 2010 - 2020", determining women at greater risk of breast cancer, can improve individualized screening and also mark risk reducing strategies. Researchers are advised to analyze the biopsies and inform women if they are at high risk or low risk for progressing breast cancer ultimately.


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