Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Breast Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Expanded DNA Testing for Breast Cancer

Researchers were able to pinpoint specific therapies for some women in study

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Kathleen Doheny

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Feb. 6, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Testing the entire genetic makeup -- or all the DNA -- of tumor cells from women with advanced breast cancer may help identify patients who could be helped by specific treatments, according to new research.

The approach is considered the wave of the future by both the French researchers who conducted the study and U.S. experts.

"It is possible to deliver personalized medicine," said study researcher Dr. Fabrice Andre, of the Gustave Roussy Institute in Villejuif, France. "Until now, we could [test] one gene in a large number of patients, or larger numbers of genes in a few patients."

In the new study, the researchers evaluated the whole genome -- the entire collection of a person's genes -- of more than 400 patients. The approach is much more extensive than testing for mutations in specific genes, such as the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic mutations known to raise the risk of breast cancer.

From 2011 to 2012, Andre's team evaluated the women from 18 centers in France, all of whom had breast cancer that had spread. First they took biopsy samples. Then they conducted the whole-genome analysis to see if they could find unique characteristics and abnormal genes that could then be targeted for treatment in clinical trials.

Nearly half of the patients were found to have a genetic alteration that could be addressed with targeted treatment. Another 39 percent of women had rare alterations, many of which don't have treatments currently available, the researchers said.

Next, the researchers matched 55 of the women with new treatments being tested in clinical trials, targeting them to the women's specific genetic alteration. Of those, 43 women received the targeted treatments. And of those, four women had a response and nine others had stable disease for more than 16 weeks, the researchers said.

The study findings were published online Feb. 7 in the journal The Lancet Oncology.

Some of the larger cancer centers in the United States are also working on the whole-genome approach, said Dr. George Somlo, a professor of medical oncology and therapeutics research at the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center, in Duarte, Calif. He reviewed the findings but was not involved in the study.

Today on WebMD

Breast Cancer Overview
From self-exams and biopsies to reconstruction, we’ve got you covered.
Dealing with breast cancer
Get answers to your questions.
woman having mammogram
Experts don’t agree on all fronts, but you can be your own advocate.
woman undergoing breast cancer test
Many women worry. But the truth? Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
Resolved To Quit Smoking
Woman getting mammogram
Screening Tests for Women
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
serious woman
what is your cancer risk
10 Ways to Revitalize Slideshow