Cellular Response to Stress Signals Predicts Future Tumor Formation

By Vanessa deGier, UCSF News Services | November 12, 2007

A specific biological response to cellular stress may predict the likelihood of future tumor formation of the most common, non-invasive form of pre-malignant breast cancer-- ductal carcinoma in situ, or DCIS.

This information could potentially be used in a clinical setting to determine which women should receive more or less aggressive therapy when initially diagnosed with DCIS, according to a study led by researchers from the University of California, San Francisco.

The research results are also significant because traditional tests available today are not strong enough to predict whether or not a woman will develop a future cancer after diagnosis with DCIS. By identifying this particular biological response in patients, physicians may now be able to predict subsequent tumor formation years before it actually occurs.

The study is the cover story of the November 13, 2007 issue of "Cancer Cell." It is a translational study that brings together an integrated team of basic and clinical scientists in an attempt to find molecular markers to aid women and their physicians in determining the best treatment option following a diagnosis of DCIS.

"We were very excited by the results," said senior author Thea Tlsty, PhD, professor of pathology and co-leader of the Cell Cycling and Signaling Program of the UCSF Comprehensive Cancer Center. "Until now, little has been known about the molecular pathways that may cause a differential risk in women diagnosed with this type of breast pre- malignancy."

DCIS is a type of breast cancer where cancer cells form inside the milk ducts of the breast but have not spread to surrounding breast tissue. DCIS accounts for nearly 25 percent of all breast cancer diagnoses, according to the American Cancer Society.

(Note that in November 2007 the UCSF Comprehensive Cancer Center was renamed the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.)

Read more at Vanessa deGier, UCSF News Services