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Tumor-free breast tissue can have precancerous changes

COLUMBUS , Ohio A new study using mastectomy tissue shows that precancerous changes can occur in normal-appearing areas of the breast as distant as two inches from a tumor's edge.

The findings, while preliminary, might have important implications for identifying breast-cancer patients at high risk of a second tumor in the same breast.

Researchers looked for and found a chemical change called DNA methylation in healthy tissue adjacent to breast tumors.

They measured this chemical change in a gene that often becomes highly methylated in breast cancer. The gene, called RASSF1A, is a tumor-suppressor gene. Tumor-suppressor genes normally protect cells from becoming cancerous, but the gradual silencing of these genes by abnormal methylation is thought to be an early change in cancer development.

In addition, the study identified three other genes that were abnormally methylated in both tumor and normal tissues.

The study, led by researchers at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute and at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, is published in a recent issue of the journal Clinical Cancer Research.

"This is evidence that DNA methylation is a very early event in tumor development, and that genes that are methylated might serve as useful markers for early cancer detection and diagnosis," says principal investigator Tim H-M. Huang, professor of molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics with Ohio State's Comprehensive Cancer Center.

"Our study might also help explain why, in the absence of radiation therapy, breast cancer often recurs near the site of the original tumor following a lumpectomy," says first author Pearlly S. Yan, research assistant professor of molecular virology, immunology and medical genetics and a researcher and a researcher in Huang's laboratory. Lumpectomy is a surgical procedure in which o
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Contact: Darrell E. Ward
Darrell.Ward@osumc.edu
614-293-3737
Ohio State University
10-Jan-2007


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