In a study conducted by Cornelia Ulrich, Ph.D. and colleagues from the Cancer Prevention Program at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, elevated levels of two proteins in the blood – C-reactive protein (CRP) and serum amyloid A (SAA) – were found to be associated with overall survival rates in patients with breast cancer. The study involved 734 breast cancer patients, with data drawn from the Health, Eating, Activity and Lifestyle (HEAL) study, a multi-ethnic National Institutes of Health-funded prospective group of women diagnosed with Stage 0 to Stage IIIa breast cancer. Measurements of the CRP and SAA proteins were taken 31 months after initial diagnosis.
The researchers found that those women with the top-third highest levels of SAA were three times more likely to die from their disease within the following seven years compared to the group of patients in the lowest third. They also found a two-fold increased risk of death in women with the top-third highest levels of CRP.
Past clinical and experimental data has shown that chronic inflammation promotes the development of breast tumors. Before undergoing surgery, women with breast cancer have been found to have elevated concentrations of CRP – and the more advanced the disease, the higher the levels. The researchers also suggest that cancer survivors with chronic inflammation may be at a higher risk of recurrence because of the effects that the inflammatory process has on cell growth.
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