News / Health

Researchers Find Four Distinct Types of Breast Cancer

Woman taking mammogram test
Woman taking mammogram test
Jessica Berman
A new genetic analysis of breast cancer has found four distinct types of the deadly disease, which experts say explains why drug therapy for one form of breast cancer may not work to cure another form.  The findings are the latest fruits of a massive cancer-gene mapping project offering hope of more effective treatments for breast cancer, with already-available drugs.

Perhaps the most intriguing discovery yet by the U.S. government-funded Cancer Genome Atlas is that some breast cancer tumors are similar, genetically, to cancer cells that invade other parts of the body, so existing therapies might be repurposed to successfully treat cancers of the breast.

Scientists studying the DNA in breast cancer tumors from more than 800 patients found that cells in one of the breast cancer types resemble the basal-type cells found in ovarian cancer tumors.  It’s possible, the researchers say, that the tumor might respond well to cisplatin-based drugs typically used for the gynecological cancer.  Newer ovarian cancer drugs might also be beneficial against the breast tumors.

Jeff Boyd is senior vice president for Molecular Medicine at Temple University's Foxchase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all treatment for breast cancer, says Boyd.

“What we are learning is that we’ve got to get beyond treat[ing] every breast cancer the same.  Do a lumpectomy, treat with these three drugs, irradiate locally and cross your fingers," he explained. "We now know, as we are beginning to learn for many cancer types, that there are multiple molecular cancer genetics that essentially render them separate diseases.”

Two other cancer types identified in the genomic study, called luminal A and B, are triggered into mutating by a gene called HER2.  A drug called Herceptin can block that gene, stem its growth and improve the prognosis for women with these types of cancer.  Herceptin has been approved for use to treat all breast cancers, yet not every tumor responds to the drug, and now researchers have a better understanding why.

Mathew Ellis is a cancer researcher at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, who has collaborated on the Cancer Genome Atlas.  Ellis hopes targeted therapies for the different types of breast cancer will soon become available to help his patients.

“Now we have to fast-forward to a day -- hopefully in the next year or two -- where at least in clinical studies the information is flowing forward to the patients and doctors.  And critically that data flow includes access to the drugs,” Ellis stated.

The project funded by the U.S. National Cancer Institute began in 2006 with the goal of trying to identify the biomolecular underpinnings of more than 200 human cancers.  The research involving breast cancer initially identified the genetic signatures of tumors that led researchers to conclude there was probably more than one breast-cancer type.  The latest findings, published in the journal Nature, offer that proof.

You May Like

Conflicts Engulf Christians in Mideast

Research finds an increase in faith-based hostilities, and Christians are facing persecution in a growing number of countries in the region More

Chinese Americans: Don’t Call Us 'Model Minority'

Label points to collective achievement, but some say it triggers resentment, unrealistic expectations More

Iran Bolsters Phone, Internet Surveillance

Does increased monitoring suggest the government is nervous? More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Polish Ghetto

When the Nazi army moved into the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid