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Overactive HOTAIR Gene Makes Breast Cancer More Likely to Metastasize

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A study found that breast cancers with an overactive HOTAIR (HOX antisense intergenic RNA) gene are more likely to spread to parts of the body away from the breast (metastasize) and more likely to be fatal.

An overactive HOTAIR gene makes cancer cells more likely to invade and stick to tissue. These traits make it easier for a breast cancer cell to grow and spread, so it's not surprising that an overactive HOTAIR gene is associated with a worse prognosis.

While this study is exciting, more research is needed before doctors know if HOTAIR testing can help guide breast cancer treatment. Still, results like this offer the promise of better ways to diagnose and treat breast cancer in the future. Years ago, researchers discovered that too many copies the HER2 gene made too much of the HER2 protein, which was associated with more aggressive breast cancer. Today, the targeted therapies Herceptin (chemical name: trastuzumab) and Tykerb (chemical name lapatinib) are used to treat HER2-positive breast cancers.

Stay tuned to Breastcancer.org to learn about other new research results that may lead to better ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat breast cancer.

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