Breast cancer options made clearer

1:18pm, October 4, 2002

From San Francisco, at the 91st Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research

Women with breast cancer that hasn't spread to their lymph nodes face a difficult decision: After having surgery to remove tumor tissue from the breast, should they also have chemotherapy? A study in Germany now suggests that an inexpensive test could help determine who would be most likely to benefit from this harsh treatment and who might bypass it.

The researchers studied urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) and its inhibitor, called PAI-1, proteins that are involved in cell migration within the body. Researchers had previously linked high concentrations of the proteins to an increased risk of cancer spreading, or metastasizing.

Among patients who have high concentrations of these proteins in malignant tissue, about one-third die from cancer recurrence within 5 years of the original diagnosis, despite treatment.

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