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Breast cancer is eleven different diseases

Hospital, cancer patientsHospital, cancer patients. Photo:

Breast cancer is not just one disease, but eleven different diseases said researchers who are trying to develop individualised treatment.

The study is published in the journal,‘Nature’, after the researchers had studied 2,000 women over the age of 20. They stated that breast cancer consists of eleven different diseases.

Each disease has its own molecular structures that determine the risk of relapse and appropriate treatments.

“We have to stop talking about breast cancer as one disease” said Professor Carlos Caldas of Cambridge University to the BBC.


The report showed that so-called ‘triple-negative’ breast cancer consists of two diseases. One has a high risk of recurrence and is difficult to treat, while the other has significantly lower recurrence risk five years after treatment.

The researchers have also identified four subgroups that were so-called ‘ER-positive’ tumours that grow in response to the hormone oestrogen. These types have a high relapse risk.

Tailored treatment

These analyses will be much more detailed in the future, partly to optimise the treatment and partly to map the relapse risk the researchers said.

“We are still a long way from being able to offer this type of individualised treatment to all women and we need more research to be able to tailor treatments to suit individual patients” said researcher, Karen Vousden of Cancer Research UK.

Around 3,500 Norwegians receive breast cancer treatment annually.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today

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