Every year more than 200-thousand women are diagnosed with breast cancer. Now new research published in the Journal Nature is paving the way to give those patients more treatment options.
Scientists identified four genetically distinct types of breast cancer.
“What that does is gives us an eye on targeted treatments so that we may be able to decrease side effects from unnecessary drugs and improve outcomes for all women.” said Dr. Susan Kutner the Chair of the Breast Cancer Task Force for Kaiser Northern California.
Kaiser already uses some genetic testing to offer more personalized treatment options for women. but she says this new information may enable doctors to customize treatments even more.
“It may also impact what type of surgery we can offer them or chemotherapy as a primary treatment. That is very different than what we have done in recent years “, said Dr.Kutner.
The new finding is also offering hints that one type of breast cancer might be vulnerable to drugs that already work against ovarian cancer.
By understanding the biological details of tumors the hope is the new research can reveal cancers genetic weaknesses so patients get the best drug targeted for their specific cancer.
Doctors say not only could the new approach save lives but it may also spare them from potentially harmful side effects from drugs they didn’t need. The study is part of a large federal project, the Cancer Genome Atlas, to build maps of genetic changes in common cancers.