Predictive Genetic Markers Associated with Breast Cancer Neuropathy Identified

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Researchers at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center have identified common inherited gene alterations that appear to make some patients more at risk of neurotoxicity when treated for breast cancer. The research was presented at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2015, being held April 18-22 in Philadelphia.

Taxane-related neuropathy, or nerve damage to the peripheral nervous system, cannot be predicted, prevented or effectively treated. A substantial number of breast cancer patients continue to experience severe neuropathy with symptoms lasting long after treatment.

“Identifying these predictive markers could give clinicians essential information about a patient’s likelihood of developing severe side effects before therapy even starts, thereby potentially increasing the quality of life for breast cancer survivors,” says the study’s first author, Lara Sucheston-Campbell, PhD, Associate Professor of Oncology in the Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences at Roswell Park.

In an effort to find genomic markers that will provide clinicians with clues as to who might develop this often debilitating side effect, Sucheston-Campbell and colleagues analyzed the genomes of 1,269 European Americans and 139 African-Americans enrolled in a cooperative clinical trial (SWOG 221). Participants reported varying levels of neuropathy during and after treatment. Results showed significant associations between severe neuropathy in European American women and variants on chromosomes 7, 10, 16 and 17. The marker on chromosome 7 reduced the odds of neuropathy for both European Americans and African-Americans, and showed the same protective effect in another cooperative-group clinical trial of breast cancer patients treated with taxanes.

“While larger research studies are needed to better understand the relationship of genetics and neuropathy, this study is an important piece of the puzzle,” adds Dr. Sucheston-Campbell.

Christine Ambrosone, PhD, Chair of the Department of Cancer Prevention and Control at Roswell Park, is the senior author of “A genome-wide association study identifies novel loci associated with taxane-related sensory neuropathy in breast cancer patients enrolled in a cooperative group clinical trial” (poster 5489).


The mission of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center is to understand, prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1898, Roswell Park is one of the first cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and remains the only facility with this designation in Upstate New York. The Institute is a member of the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers; maintains affiliate sites; and is a partner in national and international collaborative programs. For more information, visit, call 1-800-ROSWELL (1-800-767-9355) or email Follow Roswell Park on Facebook and Twitter.

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