Study may yield better way to battle breast cancer

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by JANET ST. JAMES

WFAA

Posted on September 24, 2012 at 6:37 PM

Updated Monday, Sep 24 at 6:40 PM

DALLAS – A first-of-its-kind study has found four main types of breast cancer that contain specific genetic changes that may make it easier to battle it. 

Published in the journal Nature, researchers analyzed the DNA of breast cancer tumors from 825 patients. The study is the largest effort so far to look at the genetic causes of cancer. More than a quarter of a million people are diagnosed with breast cancer each year.

"There is a drug which blocks it," says Medical City Dallas Dr. Srivedi Juvvadi, "So you can identify the specific target and treatment."

Based on abnormalities, scientists found breast cancer falls into four main types, instead of the current three.  Within those four types, are specific genetic changes that may point to the cancer's weaknesses.

Dr. Juvvadi is a medical oncologist who specializes in breast cancer. She says while genetic testing isn't widely available yet, this discovery may speed up personalized treatment when it comes to breast cancer.  

It will eventually lead to newer, better treatments, though that may take a decade or more. Researchers also found some drugs already approved for other diseases may work for breast cancers.

"Certain breast Cancers are much more like ovarian cancer," says ABC News medical editor Dr. Richard Besser, "and that may lead some doctors to treat those breast cancers with other drugs.”

That may give hope to women whose aggressive disease has been resistant to treatment.

Email jstjames@wfaa.com

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