New research has identified a protein as a potential biomarker for breast cancers with poor prognosis.
In a study in the October issue of Molecular and Cellular Biology, researchers found that a protein named p66ShcA is highly enriched in breast cancers that have undergone metastasis.
"We showed that elevated p66ShcA expression levels are strongly associated with expression of numerous epithelial to mesenchymal transition genes in all breast cancer subtypes," lead study author Josie Ursini-Siegel of McGill University said in a press release. "Thus, p66ShcA may serve as one of the first prognostic biomarkers to identify poor outcome breasts cancers regardless of their molecular subtype."
Cancer’s deadly nature is largely due to its ability to metastasize— to travel to organs and tissues and malignantly multiply. Metastasis is associated with the vast majority of cancer deaths.
In breast cancer, tumor cells transition to a form that allows them to easily move through the cellular matrix and into the blood stream, enabling their metastatic migration to other organs and tissues.
According to researchers, the ability to predict cancer prognosis can be critical to management of treatment. For those with a good prognosis, they can be spared aggressive treatment and its side effects. For those with an aggressive tumor, failure to apply aggressive treatment can lead to death.