Doctors should carry out more biopsies on secondary breast cancers, researchers say

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 01 October 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f5856
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. 1London

Ten “critical gaps” in breast cancer research need to be filled if further substantial progress is to be made in preventing and treating the disease, a team of British researchers has concluded.

Among the most important, say lead authors Sue Eccles and Alastair Thompson, is better provision of biopsy material from patients in whom the cancer has spread, since secondary cancers can differ in important ways from primaries.

Thompson, of the University of Dundee, told a press conference at the Science Media Centre in London, “We have only begun to appreciate the heterogeneity of cancers in the past five years, but only a very small percentage of patients with secondaries have biopsies. There’s been a reluctance to put patients through biopsies, but knowing …

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