Imaging and math combine to illuminate aggressive biomarkers in DCIS
Researchers at the University of Michigan have developed a new technology that can identify aggressive forms of ductal carcinoma in situ, or stage 0 breast cancer, from non-aggressive varieties.
Although epidemiological studies propose aggressive and non-aggressive forms of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), they cannot be identified with conventional histopathology.
We now report a retrospective study of human biopsy samples using biomarker ratio imaging microscopy (BRIM). Using BRIM, micrographs of biomarkers whose expression correlates with breast cancer aggressiveness are divided by micrographs of biomarkers whose expression negatively correlates with aggressiveness to create computed micrographs reflecting aggressiveness.
The biomarker pairs CD44/CD24, N-cadherin/E-cadherin, and CD74/CD59 stratified DCIS samples. BRIM identified subpopulations of DCIS lesions with ratiometric properties resembling either benign fibroadenoma or invasive carcinoma samples.
Our work confirms the existence of distinct subpopulations of DCIS lesions, which will likely have utility in breast cancer research and clinical practice.
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.