A TEST THAT measures the expression levels of 58 genes in oestrogen receptor-positive breast cancers can effectively differentiate between patients who are at higher and lower risk for having their cancer recur elsewhere in the body more than five years after diagnosis, researchers report.
The new findings show that better individual risk prediction for women with these cancers is getting nearer, says study author Prof Michael Gnant from the Medical University of Vienna, talking at the 5th IMPAKT Breast Cancer Conference in Brussels, Belgium.
Metastasis after 5 years of follow-up is an important research issue, particularly in hormone-receptor positive breast cancer, Prof Gnant explains.
“Despite all great progress we have made in the treatment of this most frequent subtype of breast cancer, some patients develop metastasis many years after their initial diagnosis. Extending adjuvant endocrine therapy to prevent this is an option, but comes with substantial side-effects and cost for society, and should therefore be reserved for those patients who really need it. Thus, better defining individual risk for late metastasis is an important medical and scientific need,” Prof Gnant says.
The PAM50 Risk of Recurrence (ROR) score used by the researchers in this study directly measures the expression levels of 58 different genes (50 discriminator genes and 8 controls).
Prof Gnant and colleagues performed the PAM50 analysis on 1,478 patients who had taken part in the ABCSG-8 trial, which ran from 1996 to 2009. They found that the PAM50 ROR score provided significant prognostic information in addition to clinical factors with respect to late distant-relapse-free survival.
After 11 years of median follow-up, of patients who were classified by the test as having low risk, 98.7% had not had a late metastasis between 5 and 10 years of follow-up, compared to 91.5% of those with a high PAM50 ROR score. This was true both for node-positive and node-negative disease.
“It makes a huge difference whether a patient looks at an individual risk of 1.3% or 8.5% between years 5 and 10. This is more than six times as much risk. Such important information may well be implemented into individual treatment decisions,” Prof Gnant says.
The researchers conclude that the PAM50 ROR score can successfully be used to differentiate patients with respect to their risk for late metastasis, in addition to established clinical and pathological risk factors…Read more