Among women, breast cancer is the most common cancer worldwide and is the leading cause of cancer mortality. Of the more than 5 million women currently living with a diagnosis of breast cancer, recurrence represents the most common cause of death from this disease. Remarkably, recurrences can appear up to 20 years following surgery, although most occur within the first two years. "Up to 40 percent of women thought to be cancer free following surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy still have tumor cells in their bodies in a dormant state. As such, approaches to prevent cancer recurrence in these women would be broadly applicable," says senior author Lewis A. Chodosh, MD, PhD, Vice Chair of the Department of Cancer Biology and Director of Cancer Genetics at the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute at Penn. The researchers published their findings in the September 2005 issue of Cancer Cell.
"To this point there are extraordinarily few targets that have been causally implicated in breast cancer recurrence. Consequently, there are few treatments available to offer women who are at risk for recurrence once they have received standard treatments," says Chodosh.
The Penn team of researchers induced breast cancer in the genetically engineered mice by giving doxycycline to turn on the oncogene HER-2/neu. This oncogene is commonly amplified in human breast cancers and is associated with aggressive disease and poor clinical outcome. The researchers then induced these tumors to regress by t
Contact: Karen Kreeger
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine