Indian women tend to have a greater proportion of breast tumors that do not express the estrogen receptor protein compared to Western Caucasian women. These estrogen receptor negative tumors tend to be more aggressive than the estrogen receptor positive tumors. While there are specific molecular tests as well as targeted anti-estrogen therapies for estrogen positive tumors, the estrogen receptor negative subgroup has neither.
The breast cancer research group is engaged in the task of establishing an atlas of the molecular alterations in breast cancer in Indian women. We have standardized a variety of molecular assays that permit monitoring alterations in the DNA, RNA and proteins of the tumors using archived clinical specimens fixed in formalin. The long term goal is to develop a diagnostic test that will help select the most appropriate therapy based upon the specific set of molecular alterations contained within an individual tumor.