Women with the most deadly form of breast cancer - triple negative - have hope for a simple test that shows whether they will respond to treatment

Thousands of women with the deadliest form of breast cancer can be saved by a simple test that tells doctors in 24 hours how well they will respond to chemotherapy

  • Triple negative breast cancer is so aggressive that it is resistant to chemotherapy
  • About a third of women will see their cancer return within three years
  • Test can detect a protein that blocks the chemo with results within 24 hours
  • It may be available within a decade after the trials, researchers said

Women with the most deadly form of breast cancer have hope for a simple test that shows whether they will respond to treatment.

& # 39; Triple Negative & # 39; Breast cancer, most common among women under 40 and with more than 8,000 women every year in the UK, is so aggressive that it can survive chemotherapy.

About a third of the women see standard chemotherapy fail and the cancer returns within three years.

However, scientists have discovered a test that identifies these women so that they can get another type of chemotherapy that is likely to work better.


The test is for a protein called NUP98, which is thought to activate genes that help cancer cells survive chemotherapy.

It can be found using a simple biopsy of breast tissue, with results available to doctors within 24 hours.

Women with the most deadly form of breast cancer - triple negative - have hope for a simple test that shows whether they will respond to treatment

Women with the most deadly form of breast cancer – triple negative – have hope for a simple test that shows whether they will respond to treatment

Women with a high protein content are 10 times more likely to see their cancer recurring, making them more likely to die, and half as likely to benefit from standard chemotherapy, researchers who looked at results for more than 500 women.

They say the test could be available to women within ten years, after testing the first breast cancer patients in five years.

Dr. Niamh Buckley, who led the study of breast cancer patients from Queen & # 39; s University Belfast, said: & # 39; We know that triple negative breast cancer is a very aggressive form of the disease.


& # 39; For women who have been diagnosed, we want to adjust their treatment to offer them the best possible chance of survival.

& # 39; This test will hopefully help us identify women who should receive an alternative form of chemotherapy and prevent breast cancer from returning to these women and save their lives. & # 39;

About one in seven breast cancers is threefold negative, meaning that they are negative for & # 39; receptors & # 39; on cancer cells that receive signals to share.

Other types of breast cancer, such as & # 39; estrogen receptor-positive & # 39; breast cancer, can be treated with panacea such as tamoxifen that damage the machine and allow the cells to multiply.

But women with triple negative breast cancer do not have such drugs, which means that surgery and chemotherapy are their only chance of survival. That is why it is so important that standard chemotherapy works with the help of drugs called anthracyclines.


The newly discovered test, reported in the BMC Cancer journal, could help identify one in three women for whom this type of chemotherapy will not work.

It picks up those women with high levels of NUP98, which blocks the chemotherapy that is meant to kill cancer cells by destroying their DNA.

It is not entirely clear how the protein works, but it can activate genes that repair DNA damage or help cancer cells survive by blocking the signal that kills them when damaged.

If these women can be selected, they can receive treatment that is more likely to work so that their cancer will not return or spread to their liver or brain and become terminal.

They may have another type of chemotherapy instead, such as one that & # 39; taxanes & # 39; used to prevent cancer cells from dividing.


The test, found using breast tissue from more than 100 women with triple negative breast cancer and confirmed using a database of another 450 patients, uses a substance that reacts with NUP98.

The protein is labeled with a brown dye in women's breast tissue so that it can be easily observed in the laboratory.

Women with high, rather than low, levels of NUP98 are seven to ten times more likely to have breast cancer after chemotherapy.

Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive of Breast Cancer Now, who funded the study, said: & # 39; This is a promising discovery. It is really encouraging that testing for levels of NUP98 can help ensure that patients receive the type of chemotherapy that is probably the most effective for them as early as possible. & # 39;



Breast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in the world. Every year in the UK there are more than 55,000 new cases and the disease claims the lives of 11,500 women. In the US, it kills 266,000 people every year and kills 40,000. But what causes it and how can it be treated?

What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer develops from a cancer cell that develops in the lining of a canal or lobulus in one of the breasts.

When breast cancer has spread into the surrounding breast tissue, it becomes an & # 39; invasive & # 39; called breast cancer. Some people are diagnosed with & # 39; carcinoma in situ & # 39; where no cancer cells have grown beyond the canal or lobule.

Most cases develop in women older than 50, but younger women are sometimes affected. Breast cancer can occur in men, although this is rare.

The cancer cells are classified from the first phase, which means slow growth, to phase four, which is the most aggressive.

What causes breast cancer?

A cancerous tumor starts with an abnormal cell. The precise reason why a cell becomes cancerous is unclear. It is thought that something damages or changes certain genes in the cell. This makes the cell abnormal and multiplies & # 39; out of control & # 39 ;.

Although breast cancer can occur for no apparent reason, there are some risk factors that can increase the chance of developing breast cancer, such as genetics.

What are the symptoms of breast cancer?


The usual first symptom is a painless lump in the breast, although most breast lumps are not cancerous and are fluid-filled cysts that are benign.

The first place that breast cancer usually spreads to is the lymph nodes in the armpit. If this happens, you will develop a swelling or lump in an armpit.

How is breast cancer diagnosed?

  • First assessment: a doctor examines the breasts and armpits. They can perform tests such as a mammography, a special x-ray of the breast tissue that may indicate the possibility of tumors.
  • Biopsy: A biopsy is when a small piece of tissue is removed from a part of the body. The sample is then examined for abnormal cells under the microscope. The sample can confirm or exclude cancer.

If it is confirmed that you have breast cancer, further tests may be needed to assess if it has spread. For example a blood test, an ultrasound scan of the liver or a chest x-ray.


How is breast cancer treated?

Treatment options that can be considered include surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormone treatment. A combination of two or more of these treatments is often used.

  • Surgery: breast-conserving surgery or removal of the affected breast depending on the size of the tumor.
  • Radiotherapy: a treatment that uses high-energy rays aimed at cancerous tissue. This kills cancer cells, or prevents cancer cells from multiplying. It is mainly used in addition to surgery.
  • Chemotherapy: a treatment for cancer through the use of anti-cancer drugs that kill cancer cells, or to prevent them from multiplying
  • Hormone treatments: Some types of breast cancer are influenced by the & # 39; female & # 39; hormone estrogen, which can stimulate cancer cells to divide and multiply. Treatments that lower the levels of these hormones, or make them not work, are often used in people with breast cancer.

How successful is the treatment?

The outlook is best for those who are diagnosed when the cancer is still small and has not spread. Surgical removal of a tumor at an early stage can then give a good chance of a cure.

The routine mammography offered to women between the ages of 50 and 70 means that more breast cancers are diagnosed and treated at an early stage.


For more information, visit or

. [TagsToTranslate] Dailymail