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Elevated Inflammation Markers Reduces The Chances Of Survival In Breast Cancer Patients

According to researchers, Systemic C-reactive protein (CRP) and serum amyloid A (SAA), measures of low-grade chronic inflammation, reduces the chances of survival in patients with breast cancer.

C-reactive protein is available as a clinical test for heart disease and now it looks like this may also be useful for monitoring breast-cancer patients’ well being, told lead investigator Dr. Cornelia M. Ulrich. In addition, the lowering of CRP through exercise, weight loss or medications, may be helpful to reduce risk of recurrence.

Dr. Ulrich and team from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington, investigated data on 734 women treated successfully for early stage breast cancer. The researchers examined circulating levels of CRP and SAA about 31 months after diagnosis.

After follow-up of almost 7 years, the team found that elevated levels of the biomarkers were associated with reduced overall survival. This persisted despite adjustment for age, tumor stage, race, and body mass index. For the highest versus the lowest levels of CRP, the hazard ratio form reduced survival was 2.27. For SAA, the corresponding value was 3.15.

Elevated CRP and SAA were also associated with reduced disease-free survival, but the significance was borderline.

In an accompanying editorial, Dr. Steven W. Cole, of the University of California Los Angeles School of Medicine, observes that the study provides some of the most persuasive evidence yet that chronic inflammation might increase the risk of breast cancer recurrence.

He concludes that if the findings are replicated in larger studies, post-treatment monitoring of circulating acute phase proteins could provide a new strategy for assessing the risk of breast cancer recurrence in seemingly cured patients.