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Expanded DNA Testing for Breast Cancer

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

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"I do think this is the wave of the future," she said. "The hope of such an approach is to better provide our patients with a personalized approach to their care."

As promising as the approach is, Somlo said, it's important to realize that "not every tumor needs to have whole-genome testing." It's already known that some specific mutations or changes in genetic activity will result in particular breast cancer patients benefiting from targeted therapy, he said.

For instance, he said, the drug trastuzumab (Herceptin) is used as a targeted therapy for women found to be over-activating the protein known as HER2 (human epidermal growth factor receptor).

For breast cancer patients, the difficulty of finding an effective treatment increases when the disease spreads, Somlo said.

"There are multiple mutations and the curability of those patients is very low," he said. Obtaining the genetic information in these cases would best be done as soon as possible after the cancer's spread is detected, he said.

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