Updated: Thursday, 15 Apr 2010, 6:23 PM EDT
Published : Thursday, 15 Apr 2010, 6:23 PM EDT
BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - There's some encouraging news when it comes to the fight against breast cancer. There soon may be a way to determine which women will best respond to a common treatment. It's research that's happening right here in western New York.
Many women with breast cancer have tumors that are sensitive to estrogen and we have a tried and true way to treat them.
Dr. Swati Kulkarni of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute said, "After they've undergone surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, we will offer them treatment with tamoxifen for five years. And that is for all women who are estrogen-receptor positive; we don't differentiate amongst those women."
Tamoxifen works by blocking the action of the estrogen receptor most of the time.
Dr. Gokul Das of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute said, "But in practice, many patients whose tumors have this receptor do not respond. The reasons are unknown."
Doctors Das and Kulkarni have received a grant from the National Cancer Institute to develop a test that will predict which women will benefit from tamoxifen. They'll analyze cancer cells from the original biopsy when the diagnosis was made, treat the patients for four weeks, then analyze cells from the definitive cancer surgery to determine which tumors are not responsive.
Dr. Das said, "Then those patients, there is no point in giving the tamoxifen therapy to those patients."
Instead, they'll be able to adopt a more targeted, personalized approach.
Dr. Kulkarni said, "And the woman who is not going to respond to tamoxifen, we want to be able to say, 'Okay, perhaps we will treat them some other way' so that they'll get the maximal benefit from their treatment."
This study is just getting under way. Sara Collar was in a similar research study and she thinks all breast cancer patients should consider participating.
Collar said, "You might benefit from it. If not, somebody in your family might or somebody else that you know might benefit from it."