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Piecing Together ER-Negative Breast Cancer

Piecing Together ER-Negative Breast CancerA specific combination of three protein markers on the surface of breast cancer cells has been linked to the particularly aggressive, but relatively rare form of cancer called estrogen receptor-negative cancer, new research reveals.

The finding is considered to be preliminary but the identification of these markers – being called XIC -- could be important because this form of cancer is particularly difficult to treat.

"We are excited but cautious at the prospect that the presence of the XIC markers on [these types of] breast cancer cells may present a selective target for early detection imaging and for personalized therapy," Barbara K. Vonderhaar, scientist emeritus of the Mammary Biology and Tumorigenesis Laboratory at the National Cancer Institute, explained in a news release.

Vonderhaar and her colleagues reported the findings in the May 18 online issue of Cancer Research.

No specific therapies currently exist that can directly target this type of tumor, meaning the only method of treatment available is generalized chemotherapy, which can destroy healthy cells as well as tumor cells and is therefore difficult for some patients. The possibility of a better, targeted therapy for this type of cancer is an important one.


To learn more, visit the National Cancer Institute.

May 28, 2010