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Editorial
April 2, 2008

Use of Gene Signatures to Improve Risk Estimation in Cancer

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Departments of Preventive Medicine (Dr Huang) and Neurological Surgery (Dr Bredel), Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois.

JAMA. 2008;299(13):1605-1606. doi:10.1001/jama.299.13.1605

Breast cancer is one of the most prevalent human cancers and ranks second as a cause of cancer death in women. In 2006, approximately 212 000 new cases of invasive breast cancer were diagnosed in the United States, and each year more than 40 000 women die of the disease.1 To date, therapeutic decisions for locally advanced breast cancer are mainly guided by clinicopathological parameters, such as patient age and functional status, comorbidities, estrogen receptor status, tumor grade, tumor size, and lymph node status. This results in inaccurate risk estimation in which some patients in the early stage of disease are overtreated and experience undeserved adverse effects. In addition, there is substantial variation in outcome among patients with similar clinicopathological disease characteristics. This medical challenge calls for better understanding of this disease and refined risk estimation to improve treatment efficacy and patient quality of life.

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