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Scientists shed new light on how early stage breast cancer spreads to other organs


Consultant analysing a mammogram.

Rui Vieira | PA Wire | Getty Images

Researchers have revealed new information about how breast cancer spreads early to other organs, which may lead to metastatic cancer years later.

Maria Soledad Sosa, an Mt. Sinai’s Tisch Cancer Institute in New York City.

Pre-malignant cells are prevented from spreading to other areas of the body by the NR2F1 gene.

Sosa, along with a group of scientists, discovered that HER2 is a cancer gene. It suppresses NR2F1 and allows pre-cancerous cell to spread to other parts of the body, where they could become cancerous.

Sosa explained, “Evidence suggests that you can still have cells that spread to secondary organs even before the primary tumor has been detected.” Breast cancer can spread to the brain, bones, and lungs in a variety of places.

This was the result of their research. published Tuesday in the peer-reviewed journal Cancer Research. This lab study used samples from an early stage of breast cancer called ductal carcinoma, also known as DCIS. It was also conducted with cancer lesion data taken from mice.

Sosa was the lead researcher of the study. She said that understanding how pre-malignant cells spread through the body can help us determine who is at greater risk for breast cancer relapse. A low level of NR2F1 in a patient could mean that there are dormant cells within the body which can reactivate and become disease-causing.

It is possible that the findings of this study could impact how DCIS patients are treated. DCIS refers to abnormal cell growth within the lining of breast milk ducts that have not become a cancerous tumor. DCIS was traditionally thought to be noninvasive. It means the abnormal cells aren’t yet spreading. But, Sosa and other researchers are challenging this notion.

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 51,000 U.S. women will be diagnosed this year with DCIS. DCIS is a condition in which a woman has to have surgery, radiation or both. Women with DCIS have a 33% chance of developing breast cancer in 20 years. according to a seminal study published in Jama Oncology in 2015.

Around 150 patients who had had their breasts removed died of cancer. This indicates that the disease may have spread to other parts of the body at the time they were diagnosed. Researchers concluded that DCIS classification should be reconsidered as some carcinomas have the potential to spread far away.

The mortality rate does not change, even though DCIS is performed or radiotherapy may be used. Sosa explained that the mortality rate doesn’t depend on what happens at your primary site. According to Sosa, the problem is the spread of abnormal cells from the cancer.

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