UC Davis graduate develops new breast cancer test

A new test for invasive breast cancer has been developed by Angela Courtney, a recent Ph.D. graduate from the University of California, Davis. Courtney received her Ph.D. in integrative pathobiology from UC Davis in 2015, shortly after being diagnosed with breast cancer herself.

Determined to find a test that would allow women to detect breast cancer earlier and without the risks and cost of mammograms, Courtney focused on leveraging the body’s natural filtration system. The result was the identification of a pattern of protein and genomic material present in urine that could be used to indicate the presence of breast cancer.

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Dr Stegall’s Comments: This represents a promising avenue for cancer testing. Urine testing is simple and non-invasive, so if this proves to be a reliable test then we can add it to our other methods of cancer evaluation (blood testing, imaging, etc.). The more tools we have in our tool kit, the better!

Cancer breakthrough? Novel insight into metastasis could offer new treatments

In a study published in Nature Communications, researchers reveal how two molecules join forces to help cancer cells survive as they metastasize.

Metastasis is the process by which cancer cells break away from the primary tumor and spread to other parts of the body through the bloodstream or lymph system.

Once cancer has spread, the disease becomes much more challenging to treat. As an example, the 5-year relative survival rate for women with localized breast cancer – cancer that has not metastasized – is 61 percent. This falls to just 6 percent for women whose breast cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as nearby lymph nodes, the lungs, or bones.

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Dr Stegall’s Comments: The most important aspect in improving cancer survival rates involves reducing the spread of cancer. We know that once metastasis occurs, survival rates plummet. The beta-1 integrin and c-Met protein are important factors in the spread of cancer. The Onconomics Plus test (informally known as the “Greek Test”) I do in my office on all of my cancer patients measures the genetic expression of c-Met, which I feel is quite valuable in guiding treatment.