Sunday, January 21, 2018

New Breast Cancer Research Found A Factor that Doubles Death Risk

Isn't that a warm fuzzy feeling? Now I want to ask my oncologist if I have this factor. But first let me see if I can explain it. This is the precis:

"Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have discovered that the risk of death from breast cancer is twice as high for patients with high heterogeneity of the estrogen receptor within the same tumour as compared to patients with low heterogeneity. The study, which is published in The Journal of the National Cancer Institute, also shows that the higher risk of death over a span of 25 years is independent of other known tumour markers and also holds true for Luminal A breast cancer, a subtype with a generally good prognosis."

Apparently Luminal A breast cancer is a subtype of hormone receptor positive that usually is a good thing. But if your hormone receptor status changes when you develop a metastases or even with in your first tumor (which sometimes happens). 

"Why this is the case, however, is not known, but a possible explanation is that there are tumour cells in one and the same tumour with varying degrees of expression of the estrogen receptor. This is known as intra-tumour heterogeneity."

But some recent research found that patients with high heterogeneity and Luminal A breast cancer, regardless of previous treatment, were found to have double the death risk. 

"Our study shows that patients with high intra-tumour heterogeneity of the estrogen receptor were twice as likely to die up to 25-years after their diagnoses as compared to patients with low heterogeneity," says Linda Lindström, researcher at the Department of Biosciences and Nutrition, Karolinska Institutet. "And this was independent of whether or not they'd received tamoxifen and of other known tumour markers."
The researchers also discovered that the greater risk of death for patients with high intra-tumour heterogeneity also applied to patients with Luminal A breast cancer, a subtype of estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancer that is considered to have a good prognosis."

So what does this all  mean to the average bear breast cancer patient? Me, I'm going to add this to the growing list of things to ask my oncologist. I don't know if I was ever tested to find out about heterogeneity or Luminal A and if I can be now. But I want to find out.

This is a classic case of new research on cancer finding more differences in the different types of cancer. As we have learned, cancer is not one disease but hundreds, or thousands of different diseases. Scientists are slowly unraveling them one step at a time. Sometimes panicking us patients, and sometimes making us feel a little bit better. But the process is way longer than I want.

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