MADISON (WKOW) -- Researchers say new findings could be the start of a new way to study and treat diseases.
A study looking at the genetics of breast cancer shows treatment in the future might not be as dependent on where the cancer is in the body but on a patient's genetic makeup instead.
Scientists with the Cancer Genome Atlas participated in the largest effort so far to look at the genetic causes of breast cancer in order to find more effective treatments.
It is something both researchers and cancer patients are encouraged by.
"When you get it, it really slams you," Connie Miley, 63, says of being diagnosed with breast cancer. "You don't think it's ever going to be you and when it is, it comes as a big surprise."
Miley says she was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2005, five years after her mother was also diagnosed.
Naturally, she was concerned about her daughter's chances and went to a geneticist.
"My daughter is at a higher risk of breast cancer. She will have to start getting mammograms when she's about 30."
But Miley is encouraged by advances in cancer research. As is Aseem Ansari, a researcher at UW-Madison's Genome Center.
"This is the dawn of new medicine—molecular medicine, personalized medicine," Ansari says.
He's excited about the findings of a new study that maps out the genetic origins of breast cancer.
Scientists with the Cancer Genome Atlas, a federally funded project, identified four major classes of breast cancer.
They found one type had striking similarities to ovarian cancer, which could mean drugs already working against ovarian cancer could fight this breast cancer type.
"Now you can begin to marry the drug to the disease rather than just saying it's this part of the body so we'll treat it with this broad class of compounds that have no value, or in fact might be more deleterious," Ansari says.
He says this study is just the tip of the iceberg, encouraging news for Miley and her daughter.
"They're doing so much research for the future, for my children and my daughter especially… I hope they find something so she won't have to go through all of this."
Breast cancer patients will likely still have to wait for clinical trials and more drug studies before seeing the consequences of this research. It is a process that could take about ten years.