Identifying the tumour subtypes that influence clinical outcome remains an important goal of medical researchers. Now, a study from Joan Massagué and colleagues helps to shed some light on the genes that mediate breast cancer metastasis to the lung but not other organs. The findings of their analysis appear this week in the 28 July 2005 issue of Nature (Vol. 436, No. 7050, pp. 518-524)
Whereas one subset of the genes involved in lung metastases promote primary tumour growth, a second subset affects the cancer's virulence at the metastatic site. Gene expression analysis showed that these genes were overexpressed in breast tumours that later spread to the lung, but not in those that spread to the bone. The research team also found that patients with the gene signature for lung metastasis had a worse prognosis than other patients. The results of this work could help doctors to refine their prognosis of breast cancer and provide new targets for future treatments.
HHMI, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, USA.
(C) Nature press release.
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