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Spotting Aggressive Tumors
A big challenge in treating breast cancer is discerning slow-growing tumors from aggressive ones; that's key because different types require very different treatment. While tests can spot one of the aggressive types—HER-2 positive—the results often take a couple of weeks, and they're not always accurate, say experts. A new test approved this summer by the FDA may prove more useful: SPOT-Light checks biopsied tissue for copies of the HER-2 gene—an indication of whether the tumor will be vulnerable to the powerful anticancer drug Herceptin. A pathologist stains the tumor tissue with a chemical that causes HER-2 genes to change color. This test is potentially more accurate than older versions and can be done at the doctor's office or a local lab on conventional equipment.