Doctors have had great success diagnosing breast cancer
Researchers have now developed a test that can determine whether women are at high risk of breast cancer recurrence within the next ten years. Such a test could help assess the risk of cancer in individual patients more closely, thereby offering them medical monitoring or preventive treatment.
The researchers at the Institute of Cancer Research, London, found that a newly developed test can effectively predict recurrent breast cancer. The doctors released a press release on the results of their study.
Researchers analyze tissue samples from almost 1,200 women
In their study, the experts looked for so-called immune cell hotspots in and around the tumors. They found that women with a high number of such hotspots are more likely to relapse due to their breast cancer. For the study, the researchers analyzed the tissue samples from a total of 1,178 women with the most common form of breast cancer - estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer.
Existing immune cell hotspots led to an increased risk
A newly developed computer tool was used to evaluate the samples collected as part of a clinical study by the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and other hospitals in the UK. The experts found that women with immune cell hotspots were 25 percent more likely to have breast cancer within 10 years of starting treatment. The risk of cancer returning within five years was 23 percent higher in women with immune cell hotspots.
Test helps you make decisions about the right course of treatment
Once the new test is validated, it could be used to predict the risk of cancer relapse and make decisions about the right course of treatment, the scientists explain. A better understanding of the immune system in breast cancer could help in the future to understand why certain immunotherapies work in some patients but remain ineffective in other patients. In this way, new therapeutic goals for immunotherapy could be determined, the researchers say.
More research is needed
The new automated computer tool enables the risk of relapse to be assessed based on the spatially organized cells. In this way, it can also be determined whether the immune cells are combined in the tumor or not, the experts explain. Further and larger studies are now required before an immune hotspot test comes to the clinics.
Test shows patterns that cannot be recognized under the microscope
The samples used in our study are already part of clinical practice. This means that implementing an immune hotspot test would be relatively easy and inexpensive, the scientists say. There are already a number of molecular tests that are used to treat women with early breast cancer, but none of them have focused on the immune aspects of the disease. The new computer-based test automatically analyzes breast cancer samples and shows patterns that cannot be seen under the microscope with the human eye. In the future, the test could allow us to identify those patients who are at higher risk of relapse after hormone therapy and thus change the treatment of those affected.
Does the immune system play a key role in hormone treatments for breast cancer?
The immune system is likely to play a key role in how breast cancer responds to hormone treatment, the scientists explain. Measuring the immune response to cancer may be important in the future to identify patients benefiting from immunotherapy. (as)