The first conclusion was that by far most of the breast tumors in men and women are barely distinguishable from each other. This provides a scientific basis for the current practice of giving men and women the same anti-hormonal therapy.
But as with women with hormone-sensitive breast cancer, there are also men whose cancer still comes back despite the treatment. This group is therefore likely to benefit from a different or supplementary approach. And it is precisely in this group of men that the DNA profiles of the tumor appear to be gender-specific.
Wilbert Zwart: 'We had already seen that very specific patterns in women are predictive of the course of the disease. In patients with a less favorable course of the disease, other sites of the DNA are active under the influence of hormones. That says something about the therapy sensitivity of each individual tumor and this knowledge is essential when looking for a customized therapy. In men, we also see specific patterns that are different than in women. If we are to work towards a customized therapy for men, the selection of medicines may, therefore, have to be slightly different. But a lot of research is still needed for this.'
'Characterizing steroid hormone receptor chromatin binding landscapes in male and female breast cancer', Tesa Severson, Yongsoo Kim, Stacey Joosten…Wilbert Zwart, Nature Communications February 2, 2018
This research is funded by KWF (Dutch Cancer Society), Alpe d'HuZes and NWO.
Molecular biologist Wilbert Zwart from the Netherlands Cancer Institute specializes in hormone-sensitive cancer. He and co-author Lodewyk Wessels are two of the 43 research leaders at the new Oncode Institute that was opened by Queen Máxima on February 5.