Facebook Pixel

Breakthrough in Breast Cancer Research will Revolutionize Diagnosis and Treatment

By HERWriter
Rate This

Scientists at the British Columbia Cancer Agency in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, are the first in the world to decode a breast cancer DNA strand and to discover how and why breast cancer spreads and/or mutates to other areas in the body.

In a press release dated October 7, 2009, the British Columbia Cancer Agency stated that their scientists had successfully decoded all three billion letters in the DNA sequence of a metastatic lobular breast cancer that is responsible for 10% of all breast cancer diagnoses. The DNA mapping was conducted of a single breast cancer tumor of a patient as it metastasized.

They were able to use the latest DNA sequencing technology to compare the DNA strands from the "final cancer" with the DNA taken from the cancer when it was first diagnosed. What they discovered was certain mutations in various cells as the disease spread. To survive, cancer cells need certain proteins. When a cancer "realizes" its survival is threatened by treatment it will generate proteins that will instruct the cells to spread. Through state-of-the-art DNA sequencing technology they have identified what tells the cells what proteins to make and what proteins are necessary for the cell to survive and change.

All this was in a bid to answer the question of why some cancers, when they recur in a patient, seem to be resistant to treatment. One treatment that worked at the beginning may not work by the end. Scientists wanted to know why. Now scientists know.

Now that these mutations and proteins have been identified, treatment regimens can be tailored and adapted to target those mutation, prevent those mutations from occurring and keeping the cancer from spreading. If the cancer can't spread by eating healthy cells the tumor will die.

Not even five years ago, this type of sequencing would have taken months or years to complete. It is only recently that technology has advanced to the point where DNA sequencing of this nature could be completed in a few weeks.

The study about this finding and what it means for breast cancer treatments was published on October 8, 2009, in the international science journal, Nature.

Add a Comment2 Comments

HERWriter Guide

Hi Darlene - Thanks for sharing this important information on breakthroughs in cancer diagnosis and treatment. It's exactly the type of news we all want to hear during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so we appreciate your making us aware of these advances. Take good care, Pat

October 15, 2009 - 5:29pm
HERWriter (reply to Pat Elliott)

You're welcome, Pat. I thought it was such great news. Hopefully, this sort of technology can help other cancers, as well.

October 15, 2009 - 6:26pm
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy
Add a Comment

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

Breast Cancer

Get Email Updates

Related Checklists

Breast Cancer Guide


Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.


Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!