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Gene Might Predict Breast Cancer Sensitivity to Endocrine Therapy

Posted Feb 05 2010 6:58am
The majority of breast cancers are hormone receptor-positive breast cancers and are treated with a variety of endocrine therapies that regulate estrogen and estrogen receptors.  Some of the most common hormone therapies for breast cancer include tamoxifenaromatase inhibitorsand fulvestrant.  Unfortunatelymany breast cancer patients become resistant to hormone therapies over timerequiring an adjustment to their breast cancer therapy regimen.

New breast cancer research has identified a gene that might predict whether breast cancer patients will respond to hormone therapy with tamoxifen.  Because the geneFKBPLis a gene that interacts with the estrogen receptor and regulates its levelsthese researchers explored the effects of it on breast cancer cell growth.  The results of their study showed that
  • Breast cancer cells overexpressing the FKBPL gene became dependent on estrogen for growth and became more sensitive to tamoxifen treatment.
  • Knocking out the FKBPL gene reversed this responsemaking the cells more resistant to tamoxifen.
  • Expression of the FKBPL gene was related to an increase in metastasis-free survival and overall survival of breast cancer patients.
This interesting new research suggests the possibility of improvements in targetedpersonalized breast cancer treatments.  If the expression of this gene can be measured accurately in breast cancer patientsit might help to determine which patients will benefit from tamoxifen therapy and which patients will be resistant to tamoxifen therapy.  Patients determined to be resistant to tamoxifen therapy could be treated with a more appropriate breast cancer therapy at an earlier stage rather than having to go through tamoxifen therapy with poor results.  Overallif this becomes a realistic treatment screening toolit could result in improved breast cancer survival rates.

Another strategy to reduce breast cancer mortality is to reduce the chances of breast cancer occurring at all.  To learn what you can do to reduce your personal breast cancer riskread my book Fight Now: Eat & Live Proactively Against Breast Cancer at
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