Unraveling the breast cancer genome gives hope for a cure

12:50 AM, Nov 24, 2012   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year but just because the cancer is in the same location, each case is different.

"Breast cancer's like a bowl of fruit. They're all fruit but there's apples, oranges, pears and bananas and each one of them has clear distinctions," says Dr. Lyndsay Harris, Medical Director of the Breast Program at University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center.

By studying the genomes, or the genetic make-up in breast cancer, researchers learned the disease comes in four distinct types. The importance of that discovery is now developing targeted treatments to each specific type. 

"Now we have the ability to really profile the genome and get a fingerprint or the landscape of that tumor and what it looks like from a genetic perspective," Dr. Harris says.

Gabrielle Brett carries a genetic mutation that makes her about five times more likely to develop breast cancer in her lifetime.

While most women are not inherently susceptible to the disease, Gabrielle stresses the importance she feels genetic testing and continued research has for those diagnosed and those at risk. 

"It gives me evidence and it gives my doctors evidence to say, 'hey, she needs a different treatment route, she needs more proactive screening, she needs risk reducing surgery,' and pushes insurance companies to cover that," Gabrielle says.

For science, this research leads them a step closer to a cure.

"We're moving quickly toward a time when we can expect to cure the vast majority of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer at the earliest stages," Dr. Harris says.



















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