Evidence From Old Tumors Foretells Which New Breast Cancer Patients Will RequireAdditional Treatment

A rare medical archive -- which combines preserved breast cancer tissues with long-term follow-up information on each patient -- has enabled researchers from the University of Chicago Medical Center to determine how precisely two tumor characteristics can predict which breast cancers are likely to spread. They found that patients whose tumors had high levels of the product of a gene family called nm23 (for non-metastasis) and low density of newly formed blood vessels were far more likely to be alive 14 years after treatment. Further multi-variate analysis showed that nm23 and vessel density were "the most important tumor characteristics predicting outcome."

This report, in the July 1 issue of Cancer Research, is the largest study ever completed of node-negative breast cancer patients who received no adjuvant treatment -- radiation, hormone or chemotherapy after surgery -- and have been followed long enough to fully express the malignant potential of the disease.

While 91 percent of patients with high nm23 were alive an average of 14 years after treatment, only 70 percent of those with low nm23 survived that long. The lack of angiogenesis -- growth of new blood vessels to supply the budding tumor -- was an equally valid predictor; 92 percent of patients with a low micro-vessel count (MVC) survived at least 14 years versus only 70 percent of those with a high vessel density.

"Our study provides the best clues to date about how to treat patients with node-negative breast cancers, the kind we try to find with mammography," said first author Ruth Heimann, M.D., Ph.D., professor of radiation and cellular oncology at the University of Chicago. "We hope to use these data in our efforts to devise an individualized treatment plan for each patient, to separa

Contact: John Easton
773 702 6241
University of Chicago Medical Center

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