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Gene Measurement Could Help Breast Cancer Treatment

It may help determine best options earlier, study says

MONDAY, June 28, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- The activity of a gene called ALCAM may help doctors make early decisions about the best treatment for women with breast cancer.

A study in the June 27 issue of Breast Cancer Research found the ALCAM gene, which is involved in the adhesion of cells, is less active in breast tumors with a poor prognosis.

By measuring the activity of the ALCAM gene in primary breast tumors, doctors may be able to better predict the potential outcome of the disease. That could help them decide whether to use more aggressive treatment, such as chemotherapy, at an earlier stage.

Researchers from the University of South Alabama and University of Wales College of Medicine compared ALCAM (Activated Leukocyte Cell Adhesion Molecule)in normal breast tissue and in tissue samples taken from primary breast tumors.

"Tumors from patients who died of breast cancer had significantly lower levels of ALCAM transcripts than those with primary tumors but no metastatic disease or local recurrence," the study authors wrote.

"The data clearly suggest that decreased ALCAM expression in the primary tumor is of clinical significance in breast cancer, and that reduced expression indicates a more aggressive phenotype and poor prognosis," the authors wrote.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about breast cancer.

SOURCE: Breast Cancer Research, news release, June 27, 2004
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