Recent findings published in the journal of Nature are revolutionizing our understanding of breast cancer. The genetic profile of 825 early stage breast cancer tumours revealed that the tumours could be classified into four genetically distinct types; basal-like, luminal A, luminal B or HER2-enriched. Of interest, basal-like tumours were found to be different from the other types of breast cancers, and in fact showed a greater resemblance to ovarian cancers.
These findings have implications in the therapeutic approach that is taken to treat breast cancer. For example, these results suggest that routine treatments for ovarian cancers, such as PARP inhibitors, may have utility in basal-like breast cancer, over typical anthracycline therapy. Additionally, clinical trials are being developed to investigate the effectiveness of Herceptin (trastuzumab), a breast cancer therapy which reduces uncontrolled cell proliferation resulting from overproduction of HER2, in non-HER2-enriched tumours.