A new study, which will be presented at the European Cancer Congress (ECC) 2015, suggests that the cases of breast cancer that recur are linked to a different genetic profile and these drivers can be targetable with drugs.

Not all breast cancer is cured after treatment since 20% of the cases recur. The study showed that patients who relapse have differences in genetics.

“We demonstrate that there are clear differences within the driver landscapes of relapsed cancers. This probably reflects a combination of predisposition to relapse and of differences in the mutations acquired during the relapse and metastasis phase,” said the researchers, led by Lucy Yates, MD, a clinical research oncologist from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, United Kingdom.

After breast cancer is cured, 20% of the cases recur. This new study showed that patients who relapse have indeed differences in their genetics. Credit: AHCC Research

This could possibly shed some light on which breast cancer patients are at higher risk of relapse when they are first diagnosed. There is also a hope that women, identified as having more chance to suffer from breast cancer a second time, could be treated with drugs to prevent recurrence.

To find this out, researchers compared the genetic make-up cancer from 836 tissue samples taken from women on primary diagnosis with 161 samples of tissue taken from recurrences or metastases. In addition, they looked at 365 genes involved in cancer-related pathways and compared driver mutation in the primary and relapse datasets

“We have found that some of the genetic mutations that drive breast cancers that relapse are relatively uncommon amongst cancers that do not relapse at the point of primary diagnosis,” Dr. Yates said in a statement. “We believe that the differences we have seen reflect genetic differences that can predispose cancer to return, combined with mutations acquired throughout the period from the first diagnosis to the subsequent relapse,” she added.

October: Breast Cancer Awareness Month

These findings come ahead of the breast cancer awareness month. Since October has been declared the month to create awareness of breast cancer, several people around the country have been getting ready to show their support.

For instance, the Ventura City Fire Department will join forces with Firefighters across the country, for the fifth year in a row, to help promote Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The firefighters will wear an Embossed T-shirt from Oct. 1st to Oct. 15th in support of this cause. These shirts will also be for sale to raise money for helping women diagnosed with breast cancer.

The Apopka Police Department has gone pink to also support the cause. The department unveiled a Dodge Nitro with the police shield wrapped from behind by a pink ribbon. The donated design was made by Orlando’s Dana Safety Supply.

Debbi Turner’s Cancer Care and Resource Center has teamed with the Apopka Police Department for events throughout October. The non-profit organization is raising money to provide 220 free mammograms this year to women in Apopka.

Source: ECC