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William J. Gradishar, MD, FACP, FASCO


AACR 2022: What Can Be Learned From Man’s Best Friend About Aggressive Breast Cancer?

By: Vanessa A. Carter, BS
Posted: Thursday, April 28, 2022

Although there have been major improvements regarding the detection of breast cancer, the distinction between early-stage tumors that will become aggressive and those that won’t still remains unclear. To shed some research light on this topic, Kiley Graim, PhD, of the University of Florida, Gainesville, used tumors from dogs and compared them with human tumors, as dogs tend to develop multiple naturally occurring mammary tumors. The results of this analysis were presented during the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2022 (Abstract 5030).

The mutational profiles of mammary tumors from two canine cohorts were analyzed to identify patterns of tumor evolution. These dog tumor signatures were compared with human breast cancers to determine which early-stage breast tumors will become malignant.

Dogs and humans were found to share multiple known cancer driver mutations. In fact, three of five dogs with at least five mammary tumors appeared to have a single driver mutation that was present in most of their other tumors. Additionally, passenger mutations seemed to differ significantly between these tumors despite sharing patient-level environmental exposures; according to Dr. Graim, this likely indicates that independent primary tumors may be initiated by a catalyzing factor that generates identical driver mutations in each tumor.

“However, tumors from the same dog with the same driver gene mutations rarely exhibit the same expression-based breast cancer subtypes,” concluded Dr. Graim. “[This] analysis highlights the mutational similarities of dog and human breast cancers and provides insight into their development.”

Disclosure: The study author reported no conflicts of interest.

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