Genomic Test Predicted Breast Cancer's Spread to Lymph Nodes

Armen Hareyan's picture

Using a woman's genetic profile alone, a team of researchers has been able to predict, with 90 percent accuracy, whether a breast cancer tumor has extensively spread to her lymph nodes. Cancerous lymph nodes are critical in determining a woman's long-term survival because they imply a more aggressive tumor, said the researchers from Duke University and Duke University Medical Center.

The researchers also accurately predicted, in a subset of women with none or just a few cancerous lymph nodes, the chances of their cancers recurring within three years.


The researchers achieved such a high degree of accuracy by developing a novel gene-profiling method that analyzes large clusters of genes, then statistically interprets the genetic information to produce a personal risk profile for each woman.

Pending a larger clinical trial involving hundreds of women, the new genomic analysis could ultimately enable doctors to select the best treatment for each particular woman instead of prescribing chemotherapy across the board, said Mike West, Ph.D., professor of statistics and decision sciences at Duke University.

Results of the study, a collaboration between the Duke Institute for Genome Science and Policy (IGSP) and the Koo Foundation Sun Yat-Sen Cancer Center (KF-SYSCC) in Taipei, are published in the May 10, 2003 issue of The Lancet. The research was funded by Synpac