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Breast Cancer Research Examines Breast Cancer Metastasis

Posted Nov 02 2009 12:00am
New breast cancer research published in the journal Nature Cell Biology investigated the method by which breast cancer cells spread throughout the body (breast cancer metastasis).  Using new imaging techniques that involved dyes and marker proteins, the investigators demonstrated that breast cancer metastasis can occur in two ways, either by single cells or by groups of cells collectively.  Cells that spread as a group were limited to spreading into the lymph system, which is a more restricted breast cancer metastasis.  In contrast, breast cancer cells that spread singly were able to spread through the blood vessel system and were therefore able to spread further, a more dangerous form of breast cancer metastasis.  Using state-of-the-art imaging techniques, the investigators were able to show that activation of the transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) gene caused cells to switch from group metastasis to single cell metastasis.  However, these breast cancer metastatic cells, which spread to the lungs, did not grow until the TGF-beta gene was turned back off. 

This is important new breast cancer research.  Not only have these investigators discovered a cellular mechanism involved in breast cancer metastasis, they have shown that at least this particular gene not only has to be turned on, but also has to be turned back off in order for the breast cancer to continue to grow in the new site to which it spreads.  Knowing the methods by which breast cancer cells metastasize to new sites might one day allow for the development of new breast cancer treatments, likely designed to prevent this specific cell signaling pathway.  Breast cancer metastasis is one of the main causes of death from breast cancer, so new discoveries in how this occurs has the potential to save lives.

While new breast cancer research continues to provide hope for breast cancer prevention and breast cancer treatment, you can take steps on your own to reduce your risk of getting breast cancer at all.  To learn more, read my book Fight Now: Eat & Live Proactively Against Breast Cancer at
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