Tissue Analysis May Help Predict Breast Cancer
THURSDAY, March 3 (HealthDay News) -- An analysis of breast
tissue may help doctors better predict outcomes for women with
breast cancer, a new study reports.
Researchers analyzed what they describe as "highways" of
connective tissue in breast cancer tumors, and found that the way
collagen fibers -- the main component of connective tissue -- are
arranged may aid in a patient's diagnosis and help determine
Collagen not only surrounds most body organs and helps provide
structure for the body, it also tells cells how to behave, the
study authors noted. Normally, a close-up of collagen resembles a
jumbled path or a plate of cooked spaghetti.
In the new study, the researchers analyzed tumor cells from 200
patients with invasive breast cancer. The investigators found signs
that the collagen began to act differently as the tumors
"We think the cancer cells start to pull on the collagen and straighten it out, forming a track or highway on which the cells can migrate," study senior author Patricia Keely, an associate professor of cell and regenerative biology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, said in a university news release. As the highways became more developed, the prognoses for patients worsened, the study found.
"We have identified a novel collagen-signature system that may become a very useful addition to the tools clinicians use to determine a breast cancer patient's prognosis," Keely explained.
The research is published in the March issue of the
American Journal of Pathology.
Commenting on the study, Dr. Priscilla A. Furth, a professor of
oncology and medicine at Georgetown University's Lombardi
Comprehensive Cancer Center, described it as an example of "valid
However, "before any new prognostic test can go into practice it
must be extensively validated. This publication is a first step
that might trigger additional research to examine the utility of
this type of analysis in different settings and by different
groups," said Furth, who was not involved with the study.
"From the basic science perspective, this is an interesting observation and should trigger additional studies," Furth added.
BreastCancer.org has more about breast cancer
symptoms and diagnosis.
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