MONTREAL, Oct. 24 (UPI) -- Screening breast cancer patients for the prolactin receptor could minimize the need for invasive treatments, researchers found in a new study.
Patients with triple negative breast cancer often require more intensive surgery. However, researchers from McGill University in Canada say medical professionals may be able to avoid such methods by screening for prolactin.
"TNBC is the most aggressive type of breast cancer and it is very difficult to treat," Suhad Ali explained in a press release. "While prognosis and treatment options for breast cancer patients as a whole have improved in recent decades, this is not true for women who develop TNBC -- they still have limited options for targeted treatment strategies, often require invasive chemotherapy and have a poor prognosis."
During the research, scientists analyzed a database of 580 women with triple negative breast cancer, and found survival was prolonged in patients who expressed the prolactin receptor. The research team concluded the receptor is capable of reducing the aggressive behavior of cancerous cells by restraining their ability to divide and form new tumors. Their results were published in the journal Scientific Reports-Nature.
The study's authors also used a preclinical animal model, and observed more aggressive and invasive cancer behavior when the prolactin receptors were not present.
"The results suggest that screening for the prolactin receptor could indicate which patients might benefit from prolactin treatment as a single agent, or in combination with less aggressive chemotherapy," Ali explained. "We think this could be a revolutionary path to developing new treatments for breast cancer."