Elevated levels of epidermal growth factor receptor may
be detected in women within 17 months prior to a breast cancer diagnosis.
While our results require confirmation and
EGFRs performance is insufficient for it to be used as a single marker,
this study is unique in that no prior studies have validated a single breast
cancer early detection biomarker specimen to the degree we have here,
Christopher Li, MD, PhD, associate member of the Epidemiology Program at
the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, said in a press release.
Li and colleagues assessed blood markers as an early
detector for breast cancer in preclinical samples from the Womens Health
Initiative Observational Study. Biomarkers found in the samples from 420 women
with ER-positive breast cancer were validated in a similar but independent set
of 198 matched-controls. Blood was drawn within 17 months of cancer diagnosis.
Levels of EGFR were significantly elevated in women
with breast cancer when compared with controls. Women with the highest EGFR
levels had a 2.9-fold increased risk for breast cancer when compared with women
with the lowest EGFR levels.
Researchers also examined the use of estrogen plus
progestin hormone therapy. Women with the highest EGFR levels who also used
estrogen plus progestin HT had a ninefold increased risk for breast cancer (95%
CI, 2.78-33.21) when compared with women with the lowest levels of EGFR. Among
these women, EGFR had a sensitivity of 31% as a breast cancer marker;
specificity was 90%.
The researchers suggested further studies to
examine the role of EGFR and to discover and validate other proteins that could
potentially be used for breast cancer early detection.
Li C. #4815. Presented at: The American Association for Cancer Research
101st Annual Meeting; April 17-21, 2010; Washington, D.C.
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