Breast Cancer Coverage from Every Angle

ASCO Breakthrough 2019: Genetic Predictors of Breast Cancer Recurrence After Radiation Therapy

By: Celeste L. Dixon
Posted: Thursday, October 17, 2019

Beginning with an initial 485 genes, whose expression was significantly associated with the time to recurrence of breast cancer after radiation therapy, a research team narrowed the field to 41 particular genes that could be useful in identifying patients unlikely to respond to adjuvant radiation therapy. The gene signature may also help to predict the timing of recurrences as well as their aggressiveness, reported Corey W. Speers, MD, PhD, of the University of Michigan, and colleagues.

These results have “implications for potential treatment intensification and duration of follow-up for women with breast cancer treated with radiation therapy,” the authors reported at the 2019 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Breakthrough: A Global Summit for Oncology Innovators (Abstract 112) in Bangkok. “Unique associations of breast cancer intrinsic subtype to timing of local recurrence were found.”

When put to the test with external validation in an independent breast cancer validation set, use of the gene signature accurately identified patients with early versus late recurrences, with a correlation of 0.75 and a P value of .001. It also identified proliferation and EGFR concepts associated with early recurrences and luminal and estrogen receptor–signaling pathways associated with late recurrences, noted Dr. Speers and colleagues.

The work is exciting and novel, noted Dr. Speers in an ASCO press release. However, he acknowledged, prospective clinical trials that would validate these findings are necessary.

Disclosure: For full disclosures of the study authors, visit

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