Researchers have found that activity in two particular genes, F12 and STC2, can predict 10-year survival from HER2-positive breast cancer. The findings were reported in Oncotarget.

The genes have an influence on the extracellular matrix that either keeps cancer cells contained or allows them to escape and circulate throughout the body, leading to metastasis. The researchers looked at 1,964 HER2-positive breast cancers and found that women with high F12 gene activity and low STC2 gene activity were 32% more likely to die from their disease within 10 years. In contrast, those with the opposite pattern—low F12 activity and high STC2 activity—had only a 10% chance of dying from their breast cancer within 10 years.

The authors noted that more research is needed to determine exactly how the genes influence the extracellular matrix, but they hoped that their findings could be used to develop tests for aggressive breast cancers or identify new targets for breast cancer treatment.