Changes in the tissue environment of the breast that occur after pregnancy promote the metastasis of breast tumor cells. The paper by McDaniel et al., “Remodeling of the mammary microenvironment following lactation promotes breast tumor cell metastasis,” appears in the February issue of The American Journal of Pathology and is accompanied by a commentary.
This work also highlights an important shift in thinking about what influences cancers to metastasize: the move from studying specific gene mutations to studying the tumor environment. The focus on the tumor environment, or stroma, has been gaining strength in recent years, as detailed in the commentary by Sonnenschein and Soto.
The human breast undergoes dramatic changes during the course of pregnancy, lactation, and involution (the process by which the milk-producing tissue is reabsorbed and the breast returns to “normal”). These processes require mammary cells to proliferate, differentiate, and finally die, events that are partly driven by changes in the environment surrounding the cells, or extracellular matrix. How these changes affect the outcome of breast cancer is of great interest, especially considering the epidemiological link between breast cancer after pregnancy and poor prognosis.
Audra Cox | EurekAlert!
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