Needle Biopsy Gives Insight Into Breast Cancer Genetics

This information can help guide treatment, researchers say

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FRIDAY, Aug. 18, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Breast tumor samples collected by a procedure called core needle biopsy provide an accurate snapshot of gene expression for the entire tumor, researchers say.

The finding confirms the reliability of core needle biopsy as a method of breast cancer diagnosis and prognosis, the Swiss team reported in the journal Breast Cancer Research.

In this study, researchers at the Women's University in Basel analyzed core needle biopsy samples collected from 22 breast cancer patients and compared those samples to surgical samples taken from the same women.

In most of the women, the core biopsy and surgical sample revealed identical levels of expression of 60 genes known to be involved in breast tumor development.

The study also found that the gene expression information contained in a core needle biopsy may be even more accurate than the information found in a surgical sample that's taken from the same tumor after a core needle biopsy.

According to the study, the biopsy appears to trigger the expression of four genes involved in inflammation and wound healing, as well as tumor invasion and metastasis. This results in a different gene expression profile in surgical samples taken after the core needle biopsy.

Doctors must take care when interpreting the gene expression profile of surgical samples taken after a core biopsy, the researchers said. While the expression of these four genes does not change the tumor's aggressiveness, their activity could influence risk assessment and treatment decisions.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about breast cancer.

SOURCE: BioMed Central, news release, Aug. 18, 2006

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