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Urine test may tell of breast cancer's spread

Published February 24, 2009

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Researchers have found a protein that helps breast cancer cells spread and found it in the urine of women with aggressive breast cancer - offering a potentially painless way to warn a patient.

The protein and the gene that controls it are called lipocalin 2, or Lcn2. The team at Children's Hospital Boston showed not only that it helps the tumors spread through the body, but can be detected in a simple urine test.

"Lcn2 is among the genes most highly associated with estrogen receptor (ER)-negative breast tumors," Marsha Moses, Jiang Yang and colleagues at Children's wrote in Monday's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Estrogen-negative tumors are more difficult to treat because the widely used drug tamoxifen, and newer drugs called aromatase inhibitors, have little effect on them.

Lcn2 was known to leak from breast tumors into the breast ducts. "We considered the possibility that Lcn2 might be detected in body fluids and might be associated with disease status," Moses and colleagues wrote.

"We analyzed Lcn2 levels in urine samples from healthy women and women with metastatic breast cancer," they added.

Women, whose cancer had been known to spread, or metastasize, had higher levels of the compound in their urine.

"Our study identifies a novel, additional player in the complex development of invasive breast cancer," Moses said in a statement. Drugs that attack the protein may also help treat breast cancer, she said.

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It's in the news....

Majority Of Women Satisfied With Decision To Have Preventive Mastectomy
New research has found that women who have cancer in one breast and decide to have mastectomy on the unaffected one as well lead a good quality of life despite popular perception to the contrary.  “A large majority of women were satisfied with their decisions to have the preventive mastectomy in addition to their primary breast cancer treatment,” said Ann Geiger, Ph.D., lead author, from Wake Forest University School of Medicine. “And women who had the preventive mastectomy were equally content with their quality of life as women who didn’t.”

The survey was designed to ask women about quality of life, body image, sexual satisfaction, breast cancer concern, depression and health perception after having a preventive mastectomy. The findings are reported in the latest issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The study evaluated 519 women with cancer in one breast, who decided to have the unaffected one removed surgically. 86.5 percent reported that they were satisfied with their decision, while 75 percent reported a good quality of life. Women who have cancer in one breast have three to five times risk of developing it in the other one as well. It has been shown that surgical removal of the unaffected breast decreases the risk of developing cancer in it. “Our research suggests that preventive mastectomy prevents future breast cancer and that women’s psychosocial outcomes are driven more strongly by issues related to aging and surviving breast cancer than by their preventive mastectomy,” said Geiger. “Nevertheless, it is important to remember that preventive mastectomy is a major surgical procedure likely appropriate for a very small percentage of women with breast cancer. We encourage women with breast cancer to carefully consider their treatment options in consultation with their physicians, family and friends.” Contact: Karen Richardson 336-716-4453 Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center Source: Euekalert 
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