Date of publication: January 7, 2014
Researchers in the Netherlands are developing a test that may allow some women with early-stage, triple-negative breast cancer to avoid treatment with chemotherapy. These results were published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Prognosis among women with triple-negative breast cancer that has not spread to the lymph nodes varies markedly. For women who have good-prognosis cancers, adjuvant (post-surgery) chemotherapy may not be necessary. Development of a reliable test to predict prognosis of triple-negative breast cancer, however, has been a challenge.
Researchers in the Netherlands recently reported on a prognostic test that evaluates 11 proteins in a sample of tumor tissue. To develop the test, the researchers studied tumor tissue from women who had lymph-node negative, triple-negative breast cancer that had not been treated with chemotherapy. Women who remained free of distant metastasis for at least five years after surgery were defined as having a good prognosis. The researchers then identified patterns of proteins within the tumors that distinguished good-prognosis cancers from poor-prognosis cancers.
Use of the test to identify women with good-prognosis, early-stage triple-negative breast cancers has the potential to substantially reduce unnecessary chemotherapy among these women. Further testing will be required, however, before the test becomes part of standard clinical practice.