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New Gene Technology Could Improve Breast Cancer Treatment

New technology that identifies gene activity inside tumor cells can determine what type of breast cancer a woman has, enabling doctors to choose more appropriate and effective treatments, says the National Human Genome Research Institute. The new method, called gene expression profiling, uses computers and fluorescent labels on tumor DNA to reveal whether a woman has non-inherited breast cancer or inherited breast cancer caused by either the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene – difficult to do with current diagnostic tools. Doctors will then be able to select the most promising treatment for the particular type of cancer and determine which women run the highest risk of reoccurrence. Women will not be forced to try drugs with poor success rates and harmful side effects, and researchers will be able to develop new drugs that target specific genes and avoid the toxic effects of chemotherapy and other standard treatments.

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Associated Press Ð February 22, 2001