A unique genetic signature can alert physicians to high-risk breast tumors that masquerade as low-risk tumors, according to research at the Siteman Cancer Center and collaborating national cancer centers. Although these tumors appear to be estrogen-receptor-positive – meaning they should depend on the hormone estrogen to grow – they don’t respond well to anti-estrogen therapy. “These tumors are like wolves in sheep’s clothing,” says Matthew Ellis, MB, BChir, PhD, a Washington University medical oncologist at Siteman.
A clinical test for the high-risk gene signature will be widely available soon. The test, Ellis says, will help physicians identify women who would benefit from more aggressive treatment suited to this tumor type.