|Genes May Predict Metastatic Breast Cancer|
Scientists have discovered that genes might predict a personís risk for developing metastatic breast cancer, the advanced stage of the disease in which the tumor cells have spread throughout the body, forming metastases.
Crane: Dr. Kent Hunter is head of the Metastases Susceptibility Section in the Laboratory of Cancer Biology and Genetics at the National Cancer Institute.
Hunter: You could actually theoretically test women before they develop cancer to determine their risk.
Crane: That means people at high risk for breast cancer could get a blood test to determine their susceptibility for advanced disease.
Hunter: You could simply say Ďokay, youíre at high risk for breast cancer for whatever reason, family history. And we can test you now before you develop cancer, to know whether you are more or less likely to develop aggressive disease because that may enable us to monitor you better, to put you on prevention regimes that might prevent or reduce the probability of either those events happening, to know to treat you more aggressively or not. And even potentially which drugs would be useful for you rather than others.í
Crane: And preventing metastases is the key to surviving breast cancer, says Dr. Hunter.
Hunter: Once itís spread, itís a problem. And so if we can understand and control or at least reduce the probability that the tumorís going to spread and form these distance metastases, then weíre going to improve quality of life and survivability.
Crane: Diet can also influence susceptibility to metastatic disease. Dr. Hunterís studies in mice have shown that a low-fat diet and high caffeine intake lower the risk of metastatic cancer.
Hunter: Diet can have an effect, and that suggests to me that there are probably small molecule agents or some sort of chemo-prevention regimes, that we might be able to incorporate into our therapeutic strategies that will hopefully tilt the balance for women with breast cancer to a less likely state of developing or having these metastatic tumors grow to the point where they become clinically relevant.
Crane: For more information on metastatic breast cancer research, visit www.cancer.gov. This is Kristine Crane at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD.