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Annu Rev Med. 2008;59:199-212.

Genetic determinants of aggressive breast cancer.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Hematology and Oncology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-0948, USA.


The development and spread of breast and other human cancers are caused by the overexpression, mutation, and/or deletion of specific genes that drive these events. Finding genetic and molecular differences between cancerous and healthy cells can reveal the genetic determinants of cancer. This knowledge results in a better understanding of the carcinogenic process and improved predictive power, with implications for identifying new drug targets, designing novel therapies, and improving preclinical and clinical studies. We review the concepts of biomarker, genetic marker, and genetic determinant in cancer, with particular focus on the most aggressive and lethal form of breast cancer, termed inflammatory breast cancer (IBC). Using IBC as an example, we describe in detail the approaches to identify the genes that are responsible for-and not merely associated with-this disease.

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