Study pinpoints breast cancer relapse risk

Swedish researchers may have found a way to determine if women who have survived breast cancer risk relapsing, according to a study published on Tuesday.

Study pinpoints breast cancer relapse risk

“We didn’t have a method before to determine which women were likely to respond to treatment. We have now developed a possible test for this,” Professor Per Hall at Karolinska Institutet told The Local.

The test monitors the effects of the anti-hormone Tamoxifen, which doctors administer after removing any tumour tissue and when other treatments have been completed.

The Karolinska Institutet study monitored 1,000 women over 15 years to see Tamoxifen’s effect on breast tissue density. Researchers already knew that high density among the white cells (the actual breast tissue rather than fat), increased the risk for developing cancer. The drug works to reduce that density.

The study’s findings show that if the density of breast tissue declined by 20 percent during the first year of treatment, women run only half the risk of dying from breast cancer compared to women who have not responded to Tamoxifen.

“We need more studies on this, but it can be a good way to test the efficacy of treatment and allow for it to be more tailored to how the patient reacts,” Per Hall said.

The researchers found that the density in breast tissue, which shows up when the woman has a mammography scan, developed very differently among the patients.

“What is needed is that density is properly measured in these mammography checks, something that is not routinely carried out today,” Per Hall said in a Karolinska Institutet statement.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson

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