MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?
Dr. Sanoff: We measured p16, a protein that increases with cellular aging, in blood cells of women receiving chemotherapy for breast cancer. We found that a standard course of chemotherapy led to an increase in p16 expression equivalent to what we have previous seen in people over the course of 10-15 years of chronological aging. This increase persisted in cancer survivors an average of three and half years after treatment.
MedicalResearch.com: Were any of the findings unexpected?
Dr. Sanoff: The findings were in line with what we expected, though we were unsure how profound and persistent rise a rise in this molecular marker to expect.
MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Sanoff: Clinicians already are familiar with the idea that chemotherapy can cause long term adverse effects, effects that in some cancer survivors are profound. Our data raise the notion that accelerated molecular aging may underlie these problems. However, chemotherapy unequivocally saves lives. We think it premature to use our findings to make decisions about chemotherapy.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Sanoff: We are actively investigating how well the level of this marker, p16, can predict the actual experience of people during chemotherapy:
- Are people with a high p16 (suggesting an advanced molecular age) more susceptible to chemotherapy effects?
- Do people in whom chemotherapy leads to an elevated p16 manifest more weakness and difficulty with their physical function as we seen with advanced chronologic age?
Hanna K. Sanoff, Allison M. Deal, Janakiraman Krishnamurthy, Chad Torrice, Patrick Dillon, Jessica Sorrentino, Joseph G. Ibrahim, Trevor A. Jolly, Grant Williams, Lisa A. Carey, Amy Drobish, Brittaney-Belle Gordon, Shani Alston, Arti Hurria, Karin Kleinhans, K. Lenhard Rudolph, Norman E. Sharpless, and Hyman B. Muss