Measuring tumour levels of the protein BAG-1 can predict which women with localised breast cancer are at greatest risk of metastases, according to a paper in the February Journal of Clinical Oncology . Bruce Turner, from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, and colleagues studied 122 women with early stage breast cancer. They analysed paraffin blocks of excised tumors and found that cytosolic immunostaining for BAG-1 — a protein that inhibits apoptosis — was greater in 79 of 122 invasive breast cancers.

Interestingly, 82% of women who had tumours that contained high levels of BAG-1 had a longer survival time and were still alive 10 years after diagnosis, compared with 42% of women whose tumours contained low levels of the protein. No other biomarkers tested reached statistical significance for predicting survival (J Clin Oncol 2001, 19:992-1000).

Patients with tumours containing low levels of BAG-1 may benefit from more aggressive...

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