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Laura Biganzoli, MD, PhD

Breast Unit Coordinator
Hospital of Prato
Istituto Toscano, Italy

Current Research

  • Seeking new biomarkers to predict risk of breast cancer recurrence.
  • Metabolic signals in blood from patients with early stage breast cancer will be combined with current risk assessment tools to improve risk prediction.
  • If successful, this strategy could help identify women with early stage breast cancer who may be at risk of recurrence.

Approximately 25 percent of patients with early stage breast cancer will be diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. Breast cancer recurrence is a serious clinical challenge and a source of anxiety that many patients experience after treatment ends. Drs. Biganzoli and Fornier are conducting studies to understand how metabolites in the blood may be used to identify women with a high risk of recurrence.

Full Research Summary

Metabolomics is a relatively new scientific field in cancer, but one with great potential. It focuses on the molecules that are created during normal cellular processes. These molecules, called metabolites, are often found in the blood or other bodily fluids and can be used to determine what kinds of processes are occurring in cells. Cancer alters both the types and amounts of metabolites in the blood, and these can provide important clues about the cancer.

Drs. Biganzoli and Fornier are studying whether metabolites in the blood of women with early-stage breast cancer can help predict the likelihood of breast cancer recurrence. They have collected 730 blood samples from patients with early breast cancer and 109 samples from patients with metastatic disease from two trials run in Southeast Asia. Their analysis of these samples identified signals that predicted a higher risk of relapse.

Their current efforts are aimed at assessing the benefit of combining metabolomic risk analysis with existing models such as OncotypeDX® or AdjuvantOnline®. This year, the team will link information about the metabolomic pattern of each sample to the corresponding OncotypeDX® score of the tumor. Adding the metabolomic information is expected to increase the precision of the OncotypeDX® prediction of disease relapse. They are now performing a similar prospective (forward-looking) study to see if metabolomic information plus the OncotypeDX® score can predict recurrence in patients with early stage breast cancer.

The team also hopes to begin a small study that combines metabolomic analyses with other biomarkers to build a computer model to predict disease relapse.

Results from these projects could help identify women with early breast cancer who are more likely to have their cancer return after surgery. This will allow greater focus of treatments on this group, whereas those less likely to experience a recurrence may be spared unnecessary therapy.


Laura Biganzoli is the Director of the Breast Center at the Hospital of Prato, Istituto Toscano Tumori, Prato, Italy. She earned her medical degree at the University of Pavia, Italy, and completed fellowships at the National Cancer Institute of Milan and at the Jules Bordet Institute in Brussels. For five years she worked as a senior staff member at the Medical Oncology Clinic of the Jules Bordet Institute. She is board certified in medical oncology and internal medicine. Her current research focuses on breast cancer and geriatric oncology. Dr. Biganzoli was the Director of the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) Investigational Drug Branch for Breast Cancer, dedicated to the conduction of early phase II studies in advanced breast cancer, for five years and sat on the Board of Directors of the Breast International Group (BIG) from 1999 to 2003. Dr. Biganzoli has been a member of the European Society of Breast Cancer Specialists (EUSOMA) Executive Committee since 2011 and European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) Faculty Member for the Elderly since 2012. She is part of the International Society of Geriatric Oncology (SIOG) Science & Educational Committee.

Grid Researcher Headshot - Biganzoli

BCRF Investigator Since


Donor Recognition

The Estée Lauder Companies’ North America Manufacturing & Distribution and Global Research & Development Award

Area(s) of Focus