Scientists Make New Discovery Shedding Light On Breast Cancer

( Early-stage breast cancer can spread to other tissues unnoticed, causing lethal metastatic cancer in some women years later.

According to a recent study headed by Maria Soledad Sosa of Mount Sinai’s Tisch Cancer Institute in New York City, non-malignant cells can migrate to other organs where they stay latent and don’t multiply.

The NR2F1 gene generally stops pre-malignant cells from spreading.

Sosa and his colleagues discovered that HER2 inhibits the NR2F1 gene, allowing pre-cancerous cells to spread to other organs and become malignant.

Before a primary tumor is detected, cells can spread to secondary organs and finally produce metastasis, Sosa says. Breast cancer often metastasizes to the lungs, bones, and brain.

The study was published in the journal Cancer Research on Tuesday. The lab investigation used ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) samples and cancer lesions from mice.

The study’s chief author, Sosa, said understanding how pre-malignant cells move throughout the body might one day assist in whether women are in danger of recurrence. Low levels of NR2F1 may indicate that latent cancer cells are moving throughout the body, where they might awaken and cause illness.

The study’s findings may influence how DCIS patients are handled. DCIS is a non-malignant cell proliferation in the duct lining of the breast. DCIS is non-invasive, meaning the abnormal cells haven’t spread. But Sosa’s and other researchers’ research challenges that.

The American Cancer Society estimates that over 51,000 women will be diagnosed with DCIS this year. Women with DCIS often have surgery, radiotherapy, or both. According to a major 2015 study published in Jama Oncology, women diagnosed with DCIS who get these therapies had a 3% probability of developing breast cancer 20 years later.

More than 150 women in the research died of cancer after having their breasts removed, indicating that the disease had spread. The researchers concluded that the noninvasive categorization of DCIS should be reviewed, noting that certain forms of the cancer can migrate to other regions of the body.

The death rate does not alter even when DCIS is surgically removed or treated with radiation.

“This is telling you that your principal site is irrelevant; the issue is that the cancerous cells are spreading,” she says.