This is fascinating! I wish I knew more about statistics but this sounds promising:
In this study, we discovered a distinct set of genes that predicts late recurrence in breast cancer, and also show that early recurrence (recurrence within 5 years after initial treatment) was associated with up-regulated stress response signaling and certain clinical parameters, such as molecular subtypes, tumor size and grade, while late recurrence (recurred
≥ 5 years
after initial treatment) was associated with mesenchymal characteristics of the tumor epithelium and gene expression alterations in the adjacent tumor stroma. Though occurrence
of late disease recurrence could be affected by genetic alterations acquired during the long latency of a dormant stage, the existence of a predictive gene signature for late recurrence in the primary tumor suggests that intrinsic features of this tumor govern the transition of disseminated tumor cells into a dormant phenotype with the ability to outgrowth as recurrent disease. Insight into these mechanisms could lead to the identification of novel biomarkers that indicate whether patients harbor dormant disease, and help uncover new signaling pathways that can be therapeutically manipulated to either eliminate dormant tumor cells or to indefinitely maintain them in this dormant state, thus preventing a progressive metastatic disease.