Significant breakthrough could tackle over-diagnosis and over-treatment of breast cancer
When we talk about breast cancer this usually means tumours that grow into the surrounding breast tissue, called invasive breast cancer.
However, sometimes cancerous changes develop within the lobules or ducts of the breast and do not break out into the surrounding tissue.
Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS) refers to non-invasive cancerous changes that are contained within the ducts. Researchers believe they have identified a molecule – called αvβ6 (alpha v beta 6) – that could be key to preventing over-treatment of breast cancer by revealing which cases of DCIS are most likely to develop into early invasive breast cancer.
Around 4,800 cases of DCIS are diagnosed each year in the UK with early signs of breast cancer but until now doctors have been unable to distinguish between the cases which will become dangerous, and those which do not need treatment.
Scientists say they have made a huge step forward in developing a simple test, which could free half such women from undergoing needless surgery and gruelling sessions of radiotherapy and hormone therapy.