Breast Cancer Biological Samples:
Utilization in Research and Sourcing

The development of drugs and diagnostic tests for the treatment and detection of breast cancer requires conducting studies on biological samples obtained from patients with breast cancer. A brief overview of various cancers and how the services offered by Labtoo contribute to accelerating research and development projects in the pharmaceutical industry.

Are you looking for biological samples from breast cancer patients ?

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What are breast tumors?

Breast cancer is characterized by a molecular classification based on the presence or absence of specific receptors on tumor cells: estrogen receptors (ER), progesterone receptors (PR), and human epidermal growth factor receptors (HER2).

This classification identifies the four most common types of breast cancers:

  • Luminal A Cancer

    Strong expression of estrogen and progesterone receptors (ER and PR) without HER2 overexpression (HER2-). These tumors are low proliferative and generally of low grade.

  • Luminal B Cancer

    Less intense expression of hormonal receptors, with a potential for HER2 overexpression (HER2+). Generally proliferative, they often have a higher grade.
  • HER2-Positive Cancer

    Presence of HER2 growth factor receptors without estrogen and/or progesterone receptors (ER- and/or PR- and HER2+).

  • Triple-Negative Cancer

    Lacking all three receptors (ER-, PR-, HER2-), they do not respond to hormone therapies or HER2-targeted therapy.

Most breast cancers originate from lobular cells responsible for milk production (lobular cancer) or ductal cells that transport milk (ductal cancers).

In addition to the site of development, cancers are distinguished based on their stage of progression: when confined to the lobule or duct, it is called carcinoma in situ. In cases of invasion into surrounding tissues, the carcinoma is classified as invasive or infiltrating.

 Labeled anatomical diagram of a breast
Breast Cancer Types Cellular Origin Frequency
Luminal A Cancer Epithelial cells of lobules or ducts ≈ 60- 70 %
Luminal B Cancer Epithelial cells of lobules or ducts ≈ 10 -15 %
Triple-Négative Breast Cancer Epithelial cells without HER2, ER, PR receptors ≈ 10 - 15 %
HER2+ Breast Cancer Epithelial cells with HER2 receptor overexpression ≈ 15 %
Inflammatory Breast Carcinoma Skin cells of lymphatic ducts Rare
Paget's Disease Epithelial cells of the nipple's skin  Rare


Explore Labtoo's Service for Your Biological Sample Research

Labtoo assists you in sourcing biological samples from breast cancer patients. Our team manages the entire project of transferring biological materials from inception to sample delivery.

  • Feasibility assessment of sample availability or clinical collection from referenced clinical centers
  • Validation of regulatory aspects
  • Establishment of a contractual framework
  • Dispatch of desired samples under appropriate conditions
  • Transfer of associated clinical data
  • Additional analytical and experimental services

Types of Available Samples

  • Tissues
    • Fresh Tissues: after a tumor resection or a biopsy, a pathologist can decide whether the tissue sample can be used for research. Labtoo can organize the conditioning and shipment of fresh breast cancer tissue in 24-48 hours after surgery.

    • Frozen Tissues (OCT and FF): similarly to fresh tissue, once the tissues are cleared for research, the clinical site can freeze and keep the frozen breast tissue samples at -80°C or in liquid nitrogen for ulterior use.

    • FFPE Tissues: Pathologists typically embed the biopsies and resections in paraffin. FFPE blocks of breast cancer tissues can be used later for research.

    • Adjacent Healthy Tissues: tumor resections typically include healthy adjacent breast tissue during the process. This tissue can later be used for research and act as controls for diseased tissues.

  • Blood Derivatives
    • Plasma or Serum from breast cancer patients
    • PBMC (Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells)
    • Whole Blood
    • Leukapheresis
  • Biofluids
    • Urine
    • Feces
    • Others

Typical Associated Clinical Data

    • Age
    • Gender
    • Ethnicity
    • TNM Classification
    • Undergone Treatment
    • Medical Imaging
    • Positivity/Negativity for certain Infections
    • Other Data (upon request)

Our service identifies clinical sites capable of preparing and transferring a sample collection for a specific project.

Contact our team to discuss your project.

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The Stages and Grades of Breast Cancer

The stage and grade of cancer are commonly used together to provide a comprehensive assessment of the disease and guide optimal treatment.

The determination of cancer stage is primarily based on the TNM classification, which evaluates the tumor size (T), the involvement of lymph nodes by cancer cells (N), and the presence of metastases in other parts of the body (M).

Concurrently, the grade provides an indication of the degree of differentiation of cancer cells, often ranging from 1 to 3.

Regarding the breast, the stages are represented as follows :

  • Stage 0 : The tumor remains localized within the milk duct. This is referred to as in situ cancer.

  • Stage I: The tumor measures a maximum of 2 cm, and there is no lymph node involvement.

  • Stage II: The tumor measures a maximum of 5 cm, with involvement of 1 to 3 axillary lymph nodes or involvement of internal mammary sentinel lymph nodes. Alternatively, the tumor exceeds 5 cm but has not spread to the lymph nodes.

  • Stage III: Cancer cells have invaded lymph nodes (axillary, infraclavicular, supraclavicular, internal mammary) or surrounding tissues (muscle of the chest wall, skin).

  • Stage IV: Cancer has spread to other parts of the body such as the lungs, brain, liver, or bones. This is referred to as metastatic cancer.


Labtoo's illustration

Rare Forms of Breast Cancer

Occasionally, rare forms of breast cancer develop, among which are :

  • Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC)

    A tumor where cancer cells have spread into the lymphatic vessels of the skin of the breast, ultimately obstructing them.

  • Male Breast Cancer 

    Similar to female breast cancers and treated in the same manner as in women.

  • Paget's Disease of the Breast 

    This cancer affects the nipple and areola of the breast. Most women with this type of cancer also have ductal carcinoma.

Breast Cancer Treatments and Advances

The treatment of cancer varies based on its hormone dependence. Generally, surgery is the primary option for this type of cancer, often supplemented with radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or hormone therapy before or after the intervention, depending on the type and stage of the tumor.

Recent advancements have introduced new methods known as "targeted therapies," specifically aiming at molecules present on the tumor. These methods tend to cause fewer side effects than chemotherapy.

A concrete example is the use of trastuzumab, a medication capable of blocking the HER2 protein, thereby hindering the development of cancer cells possessing this particular receptor.

Labtoo's illustration
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