Breast Genome Study: May 12, 2013

Before there was an initiative to map the human brain, a similar study analyzed all the genes in human DNA. Now, the human genome project is delivering payoffs in how we understand various forms of cancer.

“Including breast cancer but also colon, lung, among others; to look especially at the genome level. What about these particular cancers are manifested in the genes they express? Which is in essence their personality,” says Dr. Scott Dunbar, oncologist on Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff.

Breaking down how cells function and malfunction allows doctors to deliver what’s called ‘personal care’ Based on a cancer’s specific profile, they are beginning to customize treatment.

“From this research study there were about a thousand particular breast cancer sample databases. What’s been evolving over time is that breast cancer doesn’t represent just one disease. There are other faces of it. Some of which behave better and worse than others. And that the different ways that they are treated can sometimes be dramatically different,” says Dr. Dunbar.

This data is also being used to screen women based on their genetic risk of getting breast cancer.

“A small percentage of breast cancer approximately 5%, have been linked to what are now fairly well publicized gene mutations in families called BRCA1 and BRCA2. For which there are specific blood tests that can be done for generating screening,” says Dr. Dunbar.

This small group has an extremely high risk of breast and ovarian cancer. That knowledge gives them opportunity to be proactive and possibly circumvent disease. It’s hoped that putting financial resources into the brain- will unlock mysteries of the mind.