TUESDAY, May 11, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Doctors have found a molecular indicator in breast cancer tumor cells that could become a reliable way of predicting whether cancer will recur in a patient.
A specific pattern of molecular abnormalities in the cells appears to almost double the risk of a patient suffering cancer again, says a study published in the May issue of Clinical Cancer Research.
The study involved the examination of a decade's worth of tumor samples, collected from patients who underwent cancer surgery between 1990 and 2001.
The researchers hope that by finding a way to predict the long-term risk of cancer recurrence, they will reduce the number of women who have to go through adjuvant chemotherapy. Adjuvant therapy is a follow-up measure done after the main procedure to make sure all microscopic traces of cancer in the body are eradicated.
"The ability to identify patients who are at such a low risk of recurrence that they can safely forego the discomfort and potential complications of adjuvant therapy would be a major breakthrough," study co-author Dr. Thomas Julian, associate director of the Breast Care Center at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, said in a prepared statement.
The National Institutes of Health have more about adjuvant chemotherapy.