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New study may encourage breast cancer testing

Category: Cancer Detection and Tumor Markers

Scientists are now able to identify the proteins that can launch noninvasive breast cancer into a potentially lethal expansion through the body, research suggests.

A study at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center showed that too much 14-3-3 zeta protein combined with breast cancer proteins ErbB2 or HER2 can cause a conversion in cell activity and spark a spread of cancer through the body. The entire process is called an epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition.

Senior author of the study, Dr Dihua Yu, stated "We have discovered a key molecular mechanism for the deadly transition of non-invasive breast cancer into invasive disease." In fact, the study found that when the specific protein was introduced to mice, the animals experienced three times the amount of cancer spread than mice not exposed to the protein.

Of 107 cases of invasive breast cancer the researchers studied in humans, 23 cases were developed in the presence of the two proteins. In the course of the study, the scientists believe they have identified a biomarker that may allow doctors to more easily identify at-risk patients through breast cancer testing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in 2005, the most recent year for which figures are available, 41,116 women and 375 men died from breast cancer.

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