Breast cancer treatment could be boosted by the discovery of a gene that establishes the likelihood of re-occurrence in patients who have been diagnosed at an early stage in the development of the disease.
Scientists at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center have published in the PLoS Medicine details of the gene Dear1 in the hope that it will enable targeted treatment and the ability to predict local recurrence-free survival.
Senior author and professor in MD Anderson's Department of Genetics Dr Ann McNeill Killary commented: "It is important to understand the genetic mechanisms operating in early-onset breast cancer and to determine whether there is a way to identify young women who might be at a higher risk of recurrence."
She added that youth is considered to be a high-risk factor in re-occurrence and metastasis.
Metastasis is the term used to describe the spread of disease from one body part or organ to another.