A recent study found important limitations in the way breast cancer is classified. Peter Kaufman, a physician and researcher at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center, led a research team that retested tumor samples from 552 women who had tumors that had been classified as negative for HER2, a protein that contributes to tumor growth. There are specific treatments proven very effective in improving outcomes and preventing recurrence of cancer for HER2-positive tumors, making accurate classification essential. The research team found that, in 22 of the women, the tumor type should have been classified as HER2-positive. "While it is comforting that only four percent of these women were misclassified initially, this is an enormous issue for those who fall into this group," Kaufman says.
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