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Metastases in Breast Cancer Patients Should Be Tested

Discordance in receptor status may alter the treatment plan

MONDAY, March 23 (HealthDay News) -- Treatment for breast cancer patients with metastatic disease is often changed when tests reveal discordance between the receptor status of primary and metastatic tumors, according to an article published online March 18 in the Annals of Oncology.

Christine Simmons, M.D., of Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and colleagues conducted a study of 35 women with suspected metastatic breast cancer who provided 29 biopsy samples of suspected metastatic lesions that were tested for estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor and Her2 status. The treating oncologists completed a questionnaire before and after the biopsies to find out whether or not the information the biopsies yielded altered the treatment plan.

Benign disease was detected in 10 percent of the biopsies, and 40 percent of the samples showed changes in hormone receptor status, while 8 percent showed changes in Her2 status, the researchers found. The oncologists changed the management of 20 percent of the patients after they had the biopsy results, the authors note.

"Changes in molecular markers in women with breast cancer between primary lesion and metastatic disease are increasingly important because of increasing use of targeted therapies," Simmons and colleagues write. "In this study, we demonstrated that patients were motivated to undergo biopsy to confirm their metastases, and even where the biopsy did not affect management, they reported reassurance in having tissue confirmation of their disease."

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