A Phenomic Perspective on Factors Influencing Breast Cancer Treatment: Integrating Aging and Lifestyle in Blood and Tissue Biomarker Profiling

Ainhoa Arana Echarri, Mark Beresford, John P. Campbell, Robert H. Jones, Rachel Butler, Kenneth J. Gollob, Patricia C. Brum, Dylan Thompson, James E. Turner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Breast cancer is the most common malignancy among women worldwide. Over the last four decades, diagnostic and therapeutic procedures have improved substantially, giving patients with localized disease a better chance of cure, and those with more advanced cancer, longer periods of disease control and survival. However, understanding and managing heterogeneity in the clinical response exhibited by patients remains a challenge. For some treatments, biomarkers are available to inform therapeutic options, assess pathological response and predict clinical outcomes. Nevertheless, some measurements are not employed universally and lack sensitivity and specificity, which might be influenced by tissue-specific alterations associated with aging and lifestyle. The first part of this article summarizes available and emerging biomarkers for clinical use, such as measurements that can be made in tumor biopsies or blood samples, including so-called liquid biopsies. The second part of this article outlines underappreciated factors that could influence the interpretation of these clinical measurements and affect treatment outcomes. For example, it has been shown that both adiposity and physical activity can modify the characteristics of tumors and surrounding tissues. In addition, evidence shows that inflammaging and immunosenescence interact with treatment and clinical outcomes and could be considered prognostic and predictive factors independently. In summary, changes to blood and tissues that reflect aging and patient characteristics, including lifestyle, are not commonly considered clinically or in research, either for practical reasons or because the supporting evidence base is developing. Thus, an aim of this article is to encourage an integrative phenomic approach in oncology research and clinical management.

Original languageEnglish
Article number616188
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021


  • biomarkers
  • breast cancer
  • clinical response
  • exercise
  • immunosenescence
  • lifestyle
  • physical activity
  • tumors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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