Breast Cancer Risk Assessment.


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A new study in the April 1 issue of Cancer Research reported that women were five times more likely to develop cancer if they had a higher percentage of Ki67, a molecule marker that identifies proliferating cells, in the cells that line the mammary ducts and milk producing lobules. These mammary epithelium cells, undergo drastic changes throughout a woman’s life, and are the location of the majority of breast cancers. Healthy breast tissues the percentage of cells expressing molecular marker Ki67 and p27 was low.

Researchers examined biopsies with some as old as 4 decades earlier, from 302 subjects who had been diagnosed with benign breast disease. They compared tissue from 69 women who later developed cancer to the tissue from the 233 women who did not. Researchers found that those with a higher percentage of Ki67 were five times more likely to develop cancer. Doctors currently test breast tumors for Ki67 levels, yo make decisions about treatment but this was first time Ki67 has been linked to precancerous tissue and used as a predictive tool. Researchers said ” Instead of only telling women that they don’t have cancer, we could test the biopsies and tell women if they were at high risk or low risk for developing breast cancer in the future. ”

Currently, mammograms are considered the best¬† tool for early detection of breast cancer but there are risks associated with this method including psychological distress, delayed treatment, or over treatment due to false positive and negative results and over diagnosis. In addition mammogram machines use low dose radiation anfd repeated screening can potentially cause cancer.¬† “If we could minimize unnecessary radiation for women at low risk, that would be good” according to one of the researchers. They further say screening for Ki67 levels would be easy to carry out currently but the researchers want to replicate the results in an independent cohort of women first.

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