Penn State University pathologists have uncovered BRMS1, what is hoped to be a suppressor gene capable of preventing breast cancer tumors from metastasizing. Scientists believe the gene slows the spread of cancer by reestablishing communication between cancer cells, which allows tumors to remain localized. Researcher Danny Welch of Penn State’s College of Medicine explains that localized cancer tumors are “cured more than 90 percent of the time.”
The study, published in the journal Cancer Research, could enable early diagnostic tests that might prevent women without damage to the BRMS1 gene, located on chromosome 11, to avoid unnecessary chemotherapy. Researchers report that “between two-thirds and three-quarters of those who die show damage to chromosome 11.” Breast cancer claimed the lives of about 300,000 women worldwide in 1998; 180,000 more American women were expected to be diagnosed this year.