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Gene Mapping Identifies Four Different Types of Breast Cancer

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  • Gene Mapping Identifies Four Different Types of Breast Cancer

This is the VOA Special English Health Report.
A new genetic study has found four different types of breast cancer. Experts say this explains why drugs used to treat one form of breast cancer may not work to cure another form.
The findings are the latest results of a large cancer-gene mapping project called the Cancer Genome Atlas. Money for the research comes from the United States government’s National Cancer Institute. The project began in two thousand six. Organizers set a goal of identifying the bio-molecular causes of more than two hundred human cancers.
The latest findings offer the possibility of more-effective treatments for breast cancer with drugs that already exist. The findings are also giving doctors hope that they could one day find a cure for breast cancer.
The World Health Organization says breast cancer kills about four hundred fifty thousand people every year. It is the number one cause of cancer deaths in women.
The new study showed similarities between some breast cancer tumors and cancer cells that invade other parts of the body.
Researchers studied genetic material in breast cancer tumors from more than eight hundred patients. They found that cells in one of the breast cancer types looked like cells found in ovarian cancer tumors. The researchers say it is possible that drugs used to fight ovarian cancer might be effective against the breast tumors.
Jeff Boyd is with Molecular Medicine at Temple University’s Foxchase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He says doctors cannot treat all breast cancers in the same way.
JEFF BOYD: “What we are learning is that, you know, we’ve got to get beyond this ‘treat every breast cancer the same’ -- do a lumpectomy, treat with these three drugs, you know, radiate locally and cross your fingers. We now know that, as we’re beginning to learn for many cancer types, that there are multiple molecular genetic cancers which render them essentially separate diseases.”
For example, a drug called Herceptin has been approved for use to treat all breast cancers. But the drug does not work on all breast tumors. Now, researchers have a better understanding why.
Mathew Ellis is a cancer researcher at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. He has worked with the Cancer Genome Atlas. He hopes targeted treatments for different types of breast cancer will soon become available to help his patients.
MATTHEW ELLIS: “Now we have to fast-forward to a day -- hopefully in the next year or two -- where at least in clinical studies the information is flowing forward to the patients and the doctors. And critically that data flow includes access to the drugs.” (:16)
And that’s the VOA Special English Health Report. We have placed a link to the breast cancer study on our website, I’m Steve Ember.
Contributing: Jessica Berman
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Comment Sorting
by: Harry from: Hong Kong
10/31/2012 3:39 AM
In which research journal was the findings published?

by: Jean
10/09/2012 11:49 PM
The science makes great progress day by day. Is it possible that one day we could find out how to cure all kinds of diseases? Then nobody will suffer from illnesses.

by: a from: m
10/07/2012 12:49 PM
please let to read before men and women the reports n t new woman . she is very bad reader

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
10/04/2012 3:30 AM
It's sad to hear that breast cancer is the top cause of cancer deaths in women. But I have encouraged by the news that new medicines applyed to each types of breast cancer is being developed. In addition, I heard a medicine for recurrent brest cancer has been developed and delivered to hospitals from a Japanese pharmacological maker this year. Anyway, the advance of thechnology of molecular biology is so noticeable that invention of new drugs seems made on the computer screen manipulating molecular structures of chemical substance with virtual experiments.

10/03/2012 4:48 PM
Breast cancer is a very frightening disease. I appreciate scientists' earnest efforts to distinguish different kinds of cancers. I'm happy to learn that a solution is near at their hand. I appreciate you VOA for bringing this information first-hand in to my notice. Hail thee scientists, hail thee VOA.

by: Panh Anh from: Vietnam
10/03/2012 3:27 PM
i wonder if the phrase "Cross your fingers" are idiom or only mean crossing one finger on another finger.