Should breast cancer be ten different diseases?

Reflecting on the latest BBC News that the disease that is referred to as breast cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. should in fact be known as ten different diseases, Consultant Breast Surgeon, Professor Kefah Mokbel writes:

Despite progress in the field of breast cancer over the last two decades, our classification of tumours remain gross and does not accurately predict breast cancer behaviour. Our current treatments remain crude with limited efficacy.

This is an exciting development (from a very large study) that improves our understanding of how geneticRelating to the genes, the basic units of genetic material. changes influence breast cancer progression. This knowledge will allow us to develop new tests that accurately predict disease behaviour and outcome and develop new and less toxic drugs better tailored to the different types of breast cancer depending upon the genetic signatures of the tumours.

The study, published in Nature, found that hospitals currently test breast cancer under a wide scope, but through looking at the genetics of the tumour cells and how they mutate the researchers discovered that there are ten ways in which they change leading to the diagnosisThe process of determining which condition a patient may have. of ten different types of breast cancer.

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