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New test to detect an aggressive form of breast cancers in African American women

By Roz Edward,

A new means of detecting the most aggressive and fatal form of breast cancer — developed by a team led by Tuskegee University researchers — holds the potential to earlier detection and more informed treatment decisions.

Dr. Clayton Yates, a professor of biology and director of the university’s multidisciplinary Center for Biomedical Research, has published the team’s findings in the current edition of PLOS ONE.

The Henry Ford Cancer Institute’s Melissa Davis, Ph.D., and Lisa Newman, M.D., were part of the research team.

“Scientifically speaking, our research suggests that the expression of the androgen receptor (the receptor for testosterone), should be added to the current set of prognostic markers — estrogen, progesterone and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 — used to test for classify and determine the aggressiveness of breast cancer,” Dr. Yates said.

“The addition of androgen receptor as a fourth biomarker could be game-changing, in not only how we treat all patients with TNBC, but really sets the foundation for this unique subtype called QNBC,” said medical oncologist Dr. Windy Dean-Colomb, who serves as medical director of oncology for St. Patrick CHRISTUS Hospital in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

“As with any fight, you have to know your enemy. Imagine going into battle not knowing if you needed a BB gun, a shotgun,or a bazooka,” Dr. Yates said. “With this additional testing option, physicians will be able to better define the enemy and develop a more precise treatment plan. This, in turn, promises to be more effective for the patient — not to mention safer and less expensive — in the long run.”


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