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MicroRNAs as biomarkers for early breast cancer diagnosis, prognosis and therapy prediction


Breast cancer is a major health problem that affects one in eight women worldwide. As such, detecting breast cancer at an early stage anticipates better disease outcome and prolonged patient survival. Extensive research has shown that microRNA (miRNA) are dysregulated at all stages of breast cancer. miRNA are a class of small noncoding RNA molecules that can modulate gene expression and are easily accessible and quantifiable. This review highlights miRNA as diagnostic, prognostic and therapy predictive biomarkers for early breast cancer with an emphasis on the latter. It also examines the challenges that lie ahead in their use as biomarkers. Noteworthy, this review addresses miRNAs reported in patients with early breast cancer prior to chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgical procedures or distant metastasis (unless indicated otherwise). In this context, miRNA that are mentioned in this review were significantly modulated using more than one statistical test and/or validated by at least two studies. A standardized protocol for miRNA assessment is proposed starting from sample collection to data analysis that ensures comparative analysis of data and reproducibility of results.