Metastatic breast cancer: the potential of mirna for diagnosis and treatment monitoring
Brown, James A. L.
Kerin, Michael J.
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McGuire, Andrew; Brown, James A. L. Kerin, Michael J. (2015). Metastatic breast cancer: the potential of mirna for diagnosis and treatment monitoring. Cancer and Metastasis Reviews 34 (1), 145-155
Breast cancer affects approximately 12 % women worldwide and results in 14 % of all cancer-related fatalities. Breast cancer is commonly categorized into one of four main subtypes (luminal A, luminal B, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) positive and basal), indicating molecular characteristics and informing treatment regimes. The most severe form of breast cancer is metastasis, when the tumour spreads from the breast tissue to other parts of the body. Significantly, the primary tumour subtype affects rates and sites of metastasis. Currently, up to 5 % of patients present with incurable metastasis, with an additional 10-15 % of patients going on to develop metastasis within 3 years of diagnosis. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short 21-25 long nucleotides that have been shown to significantly affect gene expression. Currently, &gt; 2000 miRNAs have been identified and significantly, specific miRNAs have been found associated with diseases states. Importantly, miRNAs are found circulating in the blood, presenting an opportunity to use these circulating disease-related miRNAs as biomarkers. Clearly, the identification of circulating miRNA specific to metastatic breast cancer presents a unique opportunity for early disease identification and for monitoring disease burden. Currently however, few groups have identified miRNA associated with metastatic breast cancer. Here, we review the literature surrounding the identification of metastatic miRNA in breast cancer patients, highlighting key areas where miRNA biomarker discovery could be beneficial, identifying key concepts, recognizing critical areas requiring further research and discussing potential problems.