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Researchers from Denmark have discovered that a patient's level of C reactive protein (CRP) can determine how likely they are to recover from cancer.
CRP is produced by the liver as a response to an immune challenge such as an infection, a vaccine or an injury and it is an inflammatory response. Tumors are often associated with inflammation, so an elevated level of CRP is bad news.
Elevated CRP is associated with poor outcomes for various cancers, including cervical, endometrial, colorectal and prostate cancer.
Now researchers have found the same poor outcomes with breast cancer. They observed 2,910 women with invasive breast cancer for up to seven years after diagnosis and measured their CRP levels. During the follow up, 383 women died (225 of them died of breast cancer, the remaining died from other causes) and there were 118 women who had a relapse of cancer.
Researchers found that elevated CRP levels were associated with reoccurrence of cancer and with an increased risk of dying from breast cancer.
Dr. Kristine Allin, from Herlev Hospital and Lead Author of the paper said, “Elevated CRP at time of diagnosis remained predictive of overall survival rates regardless of patient’s age, tumor size, lymph node status, or presence of metastasis, and whether or not the patient was estrogen receptor positive. It was still true even when we excluded patients which we believed to have bacterial infections because of their very high CRP levels. While measuring CRP levels gives a general indication of health and longevity, measuring CRP levels for breast cancer patients seems to be an easy way to predict the severity of the patient’s disease. This may allow clinicians to alter their treatment tactics and improve cancer survival rates.”
Elevated pre-treatment levels of plasma C-reactive protein are associated with poor prognosis after breast cancer: a cohort study, 3rd June 2011 - http://breast-cancer-research.com/content/13/3/R55/abstract
Alpha Galileo Press Release, 1st June 2011 - http://www.alphagalileo.org/ViewItem.aspx?ItemId=104519&CultureCode=en