Tens of thousands of women may avoid unnecessary treatment for breast cancer in the future, thanks to the discovery of a means to predict which precancerous breast tumors will become cancerous, the Chicago Tribune reports. Researchers found molecular markers that can be used to identify—out of 50,000 women diagnosed with precancerous tumors annually—the 8-15% that will eventually become lethal.
The rest of the women, who would otherwise have be treated with surgery, radiation, and even chemotherapy, can be spared treatment. "At present, a lot of people are being treated for a cancer that's not going to happen, because we can't distinguish," said the head researcher. The same approach can be applied to other forms of cancer, such as colon, lung, and prostate.