Chilean scientists embark on leading breast cancer research

The National Cancer Institute of Chile plans a groundbreaking study to learn more about cancer sub-types and how to improve treatment options.

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Chilean universities and scientific facilities lead regional and international rankings with their research facilities in the fields of astronomy, nanotechnology, biology and – increasingly - medicine.

The National Cancer Institute of Chile (Instituto Nacional del Cáncer de Chile) is coordinating a pioneering study at four public hospitals, seeking information and the key to a cure for one of the world’s leading fatal diseases: breast cancer.

“This high-level investigation will be the groundwork for large scale international work in terms of cancer in the public health system, because all the investments are going to – and staying in – public hospitals,” said Dr. Jaime Verdugo, the head of the Chilean Ministry of Health’s cancer unit.

The Chilean study, titled “Molecular Profile of Breast Cancer in Clinical State II and III Among Latin American Women Who Receive Standard Reference Treatment,” will address the molecular profiles of different sub-types of breast cancer and the prevalence of each type in Latin American women.

The results of the study may allow healthcare professionals to improve their diagnoses and tailor treatment to the specific type of cancer found in each patient.

Research begins December 2012, and will study 400 patients over three years at Chilean hospitals, looking at four sub-types of breast cancer.

“We know that the occurance and prognosis of breast cancer is influenced by various factors, including genetic ancestry, socioeconomic and cultural factors, and the molecular profile of the tumor. We do not know the impact of each of these factors on the women of Latin America, and knowing these characteristics will allow us to improve treatments,” said oncologist Dr. Bettina Müller, representative of the National Cancer Institute of Chile.

But first, the team will fine tune the details of their research at the third annual Latin American Cancer Research Network meeting in Guadalajara, Mexico next week, which invited a delegation of 34 public health professionals from Chile.

Teams from Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Uruguay will also be working in tandem with the Chilean project. The National Cancer Institute of the United States is partly funding the Latin American project, as well as offering technical support and technology exchanges.