High levels of a specific gene in breast cancer tumours may provide the tell-tale signs of whether the patient will respond to a commonly used drug therapy or not, university scientists have found.
According to the findings, high levels of a gene known as FKBPL may indicate whether the use of tamoxifen will be effective or not.
If scientists can harness the gene, they could develop an indicator test which will allow doctors to better predict the outcome of treatment with tamoxifen or use an entirely different therapy to increase a patient’s chances of survival.
Dr Tracy Robson and researcher Dr Hayley McKeen, funded by Breast Cancer Campaign at the School of Pharmacy Queen’s University Belfast, led the research that could help doctors tailor care depending on each individual patient.
Dr Robson said: “Importantly this research should allow us to identify which patients are unlikely to respond to or eventually relapse on tamoxifen therapy, which means they could be treated more aggressively with chemotherapy.”
Approximately 28,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with oestrogen dependent breast cancer each year, and many thousands will receive tamoxifen for five years after initial treatment and surgery.
However, scientists predict the drug is only effective in around two-thirds of people with thousands of patients seeing no benefit.
Copyright Press Association 2010
Breast Cancer Campaign