In a major medical breakthrough, researchers have found new biomarker related to the body's immune system that predicts breast cancer relapse.
They collected tissue samples from breast cancer patients to validate the findings.
"We studied data from 17 patients. Of these patients, we had eight that relapsed within five years and nine that have remained cancer-free up to seven years," said Masoud Manjili, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology at Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center.
The five-gene signature was found to predict relapse in these patients with over 85 percent accuracy.
Currently, there are two main tests used to predict the risk of relapse in breast cancer patients, the Oncotype DX panel and the MammaPrint panel.
Both of these tests focus on genes that are mainly expressed by tumour cells.
"We know that the body initiates an immune response when it detects cancer, and immune system cells are usually present at the site of the tumour," said Manjili.
"Our test differs from currently-used tests by looking for a biological response to the presence of cancer, and not relying on genes expressed by the actual cancer cells," he added.
The study is published in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment.