Recently it was announced that a molecule miR-18a is being researched which may change the treatment of DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma in Situ) breast cancer. Simply, it is my understanding that from the cell structure of this molecule it is possible to diagnose if the DCIS may develop into cancer and require surgery or not. This is so important if by a simple “test” the numbers of DCIS surgery and treatment could be reduced by approximately 50%.
miR-18a Research & Discovery
This research is ongoing but the potential for determining whether a tumour may progress to the stage it requires surgery and treatment is overwhelmingly positive. This exciting discovery was made by a team of scientists led by Valerie Weaver, PhD, professor of surgery and anatomy and director of the Center for Bioengineering and Tissue Regeneration at UCSF
Currently DCIS is treated basically the same as for invasive breast cancer
“This discovery of the molecular chain of events between tissue stiffening and spreading cancer
may lead to new and more effective treatment strategies that target
structural changes in breast cancers and other tumors,”
~ Valerie Weaver, PhD, Center for Bioengineering and Tissue Regeneration, UCSF
Information on DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma In Situ)
- Ductal Carcinoma In Situ occurs in the breast milk ducts and may develop into invasive cancer
- DCIS is categorized as precancerous or non-invasive or Stage “O” (Zero)
- Most women diagnosed with DCIS in UK breast clinics had an average age of 59
- Treatment for DCIS is usually lumpectomy, partial or full mastectomy followed by radiation and / or chemotherapy. Many women follow this with at least 5 years of the daily medication Tamoxifin
- Mayo Clinic is foremost cancer hospital in USA
- DCIS diagnosis causes uncertainty and stress
- Extensive breast cancer statistics from 2011 – 2012
- It is estimated that approximately 50%of all DCIS will not become cancer
“The work provides early evidence that miR18a is a strong predictor of metastasis
and poor survival in women with luminal breast tumors, and that it may be used
to distinguish luminal A breast tumors from luminal B breast tumors,”
Laura Van’t Veer, head of the breast oncology program
at the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, UCSF
Breast Cancer Survival Rates
This monumental molecule discovery may drastically change breast cancer survival rates with early detection ultimately saving many lives. This discovery may also dictate courses of treatment, surgery and hormone therapy for untold numbers of women. This will perhaps effect tens of thousands of women each year who undergo unnecessary surgery and radiation treatment – an immense relief. That does not account for the massive savings of funds and personnel which could be channelled into other cancer research and care for perhaps lung and pancreatic cancers, etc.
The actual diagnosis of having DCIS breast cancer is stressful and oftentimes confusing with conflicting information of treatment from medical staff. Such as, there is question whether after a lumpectomy there is a need for radiation for all patients. DCIS surgeries and treatments can extend up to a year and can leave a patient with lifelong side effects.
This molecule miR-18a has the potential to revolutionize breast cancer health care world wide and take a lot of “guessing” out of the DCIS becoming invasive equation and give understanding and peace of mind to untold numbers of women in the coming years.
Links and References
- Breast cancer molecular discovery at University of California
- Approximately 60,000 cases of DCIS are diagnosed in the United States each year – American Cancer Society
- What is DCIS
- Treatment of DCIS
- Emerging areas of research for treatment of DCIS
- The continuing controversy over the management of DCIS