Aggressiveness of breast cancer associated with longer lead times to metastasis

 • Latest findings published in Cancer Research reveal that Luminal A breast cancer can switch subtype during time to metastasis leading to lost sensitivity to therapy

• Genomic analysis of metastasis is crucial to better guide treatment decisions and predict survival of patients with metastatic disease

Published as an open access and online first article* last month in Cancer Research, Aleix Prat, Principal Investigator of VHIO´s Translational Genomics Group, Head of Oncology, Hospital Clínic, and Head of Translational Genomics and Targeted Therapies in Solid Tumors at August Pi i Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute – IDIBAPS, has for the first time evidenced that longer lead times to metastasis render cancers more aggressive.

First authored by Juan M. Cejalvo, PhD student of Aleix´s IDIBAPS group and the Growth Control and Cancer Metastasis Group at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona), led by ICREA Professor Roger Gomis, the study was also carried out in collaboration with Javier Cortés, Associate Translational Researcher at VHIO and Head of Breast Cancer and Gynecological Tumors at the Ramón y Cajal Hospital (Madrid), and VHIO´s Paolo Nuciforo, Principal Investigator of our Molecular Oncology Group, along with other colleagues at leading research centers and hospitals across Spain as well as the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill, USA).

Samples from 123 patients from a trial of the Spanish Breast Cancer Group (GEICAM) and the Hospitals Clínic of Barcelona, Clínic of Valencia and AO-Papardo of Messina (Italy), were studied to explore the genomic changes in 105 genes at the RNA level between the initial tumor and metastasis. They discovered that, unlike other breast cancer subtypes that maintain their original identity when metastasis appears, subtype luminal A becomes Lumina B or HER2-enriched in 55% of cases. These cancers consequently lose sensitivity to antiestrogenic therapies, and therefore represent a sub-class of breast cancer requiring other more effectively matched anti-cancer treatments.

“Both the liquid biopsy tracking and genetic analysis of metastasis are imperative for the more accurate characterization of these tumors and to establish whether they have changed their subtype identity through the time leading to metastatic spread. This duo approach will enable us to better select therapies based on these metastatic characteristics rather than the initial tumor and make more precise and predictive prognoses,” observes Corresponding Author Aleix Prat.

To discover more and access the paper visit Cancer Research online at:


* Juan M. Cejalvo, Eduardo Martínez de Dueñas, Patricia Galván, Susana García-Recio, Octavio Burgués Gasión, Laia Paré, Silvia Antolín, Rosella Martinello, Isabel Blancas, Barbara Adamo, Ángel Guerrero-Zotano, Montserrat Muñoz, Paolo Nucíforo, María Vidal, Ramón M. Pérez, José I. Chacón López-Muniz, Rosalía Caballero, Vicente Peg, Eva Carrasco, Federico Rojo, Charles M. Perou, Javier Cortés, Vincenzo Adamo, Joan Albanell, Roger R. Gomis, Ana Lluch, and Aleix Prat. Intrinsic Subtypes and Gene Expression Profiles in Primary and Metastatic Breast Cancer. Cancer Res. DOI: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-16-2717 Published March 2017.

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