MicroRNA Could Help Oncologists Craft Better Treatment Plans for Breast Cancer Patients
By Jonathan Springston, Editor, Relias Media
Researchers report they have identified a biomarker that could help clinicians know which patients are more likely to experience breast cancer recurrence and mortality from such.
Noting that 20% to 30% of women diagnosed with breast cancer will experience recurrence, investigators theorized microRNA, molecules known to modulate genetic expression and affect cancer development, could be a tool to predict which patients were more likely to experience this recurrence or record a higher mortality rate.
In a prospective, multicenter trial, investigators recruited 124 patients (median age, 55 years) from eight locations in Ireland who were undergoing neoadjuvant chemotherapy. The authors took blood samples over three years, at two specific points: at diagnosis and halfway through chemotherapy treatment. The researchers measured microRNA levels at both points. After roughly 8.5 years median follow-up, investigators noted patients with higher levels of microRNA were more likely to experience better outcomes (i.e., more likely to survive recurrence-free and disease-free).
The results of this research are limited to the fact the cohort size was small. Also, although the authors considered the five subtypes of breast cancer, their work was not powered or designed to determine the efficacy of microRNA against any particular subtype. There is room for future investigations into this question, along with the possibility of raising the level of these helpful markers in breast cancer patients.