Tissue sample appeal to breast cancer patients

BREAST CANCER patients in Ireland have been urged to donate tissue samples to a research programme which has the potential to help those with the most severe form of the disease.

The national clinical research programme for the treatment of breast cancer has collected 560 samples since it was launched last year. It is being run by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI).

Almost 300 samples have come from regional centres in Cork, Waterford and Limerick, which are part-funded by Aviva, while the rest have come from the breast cancer clinic in Beaumont Hospital.

Dr Leonie Young, who heads up the Endocrine Oncology Research Group in the RCSI, said the research was already paying dividends and she appealed for more women to donate samples.

Researchers have identified biomarkers HOXC11 and S100beta, which indicate the most aggressive form of breast cancer and poorer outcomes for patients. Dr Young said the more tissue samples they receive, the better chance they have of improving clinical outcomes.

“Having availability of all those patient tissues, we can have a look and see in a wide cohort of patients if what we see in the lab holds true,” she said. “Our end goal would be to have a biomarker to put into a clinic in a realistic amount of time.”

The ultimate goal is to develop a simple breast cancer diagnostic test for all women. Such a test would identify early those women who are at risk of the most aggressive form of the disease and target them with appropriate forms of treatment.