We've been treating breast cancer as a single disease for years. A new study has reclassified it as ten separate sub diseases all with different genetic features, which could transform the way women are diagnosed and treated.
Conducted at the University of British Columbia and published in Nature, the researchers analyzed the DNA and RNA of 2,000 tumor samples taken from women diagnosed with breast cancer. The pool of data will allow them to spot new patterns, and discovering that there are actually ten subtly different cancers that are all currently lumped together as one.
These cancers behave differently, and some spread more easily. Others respond better to certain treatments, while others don't. Professor Carlo Caldas, one of the researchers said:
"Our results will pave the way for doctors in the future to diagnose the type of breast cancer a woman has, the types of drugs that will work and those that won't, in a much more precise way than is currently possible."
The research will be able to give insight on how to tailor treatments individually, thus treating breast cancer more effectively. Harpal Kumar, from Cancer Research UK, told the BBC:
"This is the largest ever study looking in detail at the genetics of breast tumours. This will change the way we look at breast cancer, it will have an enormous impact in the years to come in diagnosing and treating breast cancer. We think this is a landmark study."