Better diagnosis to improve breast cancer treatment

October 25, 2018, University of Queensland
Micrograph showing a lymph node invaded by ductal breast carcinoma, with extension of the tumour beyond the lymph node. Credit: Nephron/Wikipedia

Breast cancer patients will soon have a better chance of fighting the disease thanks to new pathology guidelines created by University of Queensland researchers.

The guidelines allow pathologists to identify which patients have more aggressive forms of , which means they can be classified appropriately and their treatment can be tailored.

From 2019, the World Health Organisation will incorporate these guidelines into the fifth edition of the iconic "Blue book," Classification of Tumours of the Breast.

Research Fellow Dr. Amy McCart Reed said the team which developed the guidelines specifically investigated metaplastic breast carcinomas (MBC), a rare but aggressive form of breast cancer.

"For patients with MBC, we found the number of different cell types in the tumours had a significant impact on survival," Dr. McCart Reed said.

"The more diverse the , the worse the patient's prognosis is likely to be.

"Among patients with a bad tumour type like MBC, there are some who will do well and some will do poorly, and this new metric helps us to categorise this.

"Previously, the WHO guidelines have described the types of cancer cells within tumours without telling pathologists specifically what and how much to record.

"Now we can advise pathologists to record the number of types of morphologies within tumours because a more accurate prognosis can be made based on this."

MBC accounts for less than five per cent of all invasive breast cancers, but contributes significantly to mortality because the tumours can be very aggressive.

UQ's Centre for Clinical Research Head of Molecular Pathology Professor Sunil Lakhani said the research was possible due to the establishment of the Asia-Pacific Metaplastic Breast Cancer Consortium (APMBCC).

"Creating APMBCC brought together a large enough cohort of these rare tumour samples for the first time in Australasia, which was necessary to draw conclusions about these incredibly diverse tumours," Dr. Lakhani said.

"Research using APMCC will help to identify novel therapeutic targets and pinpoint the potential for re-purposing existing cancer drugs."

The study was jointly funded by the National Breast Cancer Foundation and Cancer Australia, and involved Professor Sandra O'Toole from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney.

The study is published in the Journal of Pathology.

Explore further: Breast cancer breakthrough: Some tumors can stop their own spread

More information: Amy Ellen McCart Reed et al. Phenotypic and molecular dissection of Metaplastic Breast Cancer and the prognostic implications, The Journal of Pathology (2018). DOI: 10.1002/path.5184

Related Stories

Breast cancer breakthrough: Some tumors can stop their own spread

August 27, 2018
Certain types of breast tumors can send signals that freeze the growth of their own secondary cancers, according to a major new study co-led by Australia's Garvan Institute of Medical Research.

New treatment for aggressive breast cancer

March 12, 2018
Approximately 10 to 15 percent of breast cancer cases do not respond to treatment with hormone therapy, which means that they are more aggressive and often recur. An international research team led by researchers at Lund ...

Breast cancer fuelled by mysterious Yin Yang protein

July 23, 2018
Scientists have unveiled clues about a mysterious molecule called Yin Yang1—and revealed it may fuel tumour growth in breast cancer.

Breast cancer's spread routes mapped

February 27, 2018
Breast cancer spreads to other organs in the body according to certain specific patterns. This has been shown by a team of researchers from Karolinska Institutet and KTH in Sweden and the University of Helsinki in Finland ...

Study discovers proteins which suppress the growth of breast cancer tumors

June 12, 2017
Researchers at the University of Birmingham have found that a type of protein could hold the secret to suppressing the growth of breast cancer tumours.

Targeting 'Achilles' heel' could supercharge breast cancer treatment

August 2, 2017
A new class of anti-cancer agents that target cancer cells' 'Achilles' heel' could help to supercharge breast cancer treatment, improving outcomes for some of the most aggressive types of breast cancer.

Recommended for you

Successful anti-PD-1 therapy requires interaction between CD8+ T cells and dendritic cells

December 11, 2018
A team led by a Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigator has found that successful cancer immunotherapy targeting the PD-1 molecule requires interaction between cytotoxic CD8+ T cells, which have been considered ...

Loss of two genes drives a deadly form of colorectal cancer, reveals a potential treatment

December 11, 2018
Colorectal cancers arise from earlier growths, called polyps, found on the inner surface of the colon. Scientists are now learning that polyps use two distinct molecular pathways as they progress to cancer, called the "conventional" ...

Taking uncertainty out of cancer prognosis

December 11, 2018
A cancer diagnosis tells you that you have cancer, but how that cancer will progress is a terrifying uncertainty for most patients. Researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) have now identified a specific class ...

Pushing closer to a new cancer-fighting strategy

December 11, 2018
A molecular pathway that's frequently mutated in many different forms of cancer becomes active when cells push parts of their membranes outward into bulging protrusions, Johns Hopkins researchers report in a new study. The ...

Scientists have identified and modelled a distinct biology for paediatric AML

December 11, 2018
Scientists have identified and modelled a distinct biology for paediatric acute myeloid leukaemia, one of the major causes of death in children.

HER2 mutations can cause treatment resistance in metastatic ER-positive breast cancer

December 11, 2018
Metastatic breast cancers treated with hormone therapy can become treatment-resistant when they acquire mutations in the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) that were not present in the original tumor, reports ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.