Scientists may have found a way to predict which breast cancer survivors will end up with that cancer again. Right now, scientists know it comes back in 10 to 15% of the cases.
But at Roger Williams Medical Center, researchers poured over 116 specimens from breast cancer patients, and found one link, actually two, proteins responsible for breast cancers that tend to recur.
"When we first broke the code and realized what we found, I basically couldn't sleep for a couple of months, not literally, but I'd wake up in the middle of the night and just wanting to move this forward as quickly as possible," says Dr. Raymond Frackleton, Roger Williams Medical Center.
What they identified were a pair of proteins known as SHC, one of them in an activated form pushes the tumor cells to act agressively again, the other protein they identified acts like a brake, halting the progression.
The researchers found that women with more of the activated form of this protein and less of the other were most likely to relapse. It's in the October issue of Cancer Research. The good news is that researchers hope this will lead to a test that could identify which breast cancer survivors are high risk for a recurrence.
There's a move to expand this research to include many hundreds, perhaps even thousands of tumor specimens from breast cancer patients around the country, to confirm these results.