Study may help find ways to prevent recurrence
The microscopic appearance of cells in recurrent tumors changes, transforming from a cuboidal, epithelial shape in primary tumors (left) to a spindle, fibroblastic shape in recurrent tumors (right). (Credit: Susan Moody, Denise Perez, and Lewis Chodosh, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Cell Press)
Using a recently developed mouse model of breast cancer, a team from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine has shown that Snail, a molecule normally important in embryonic development, can promote breast cancer recurrence. They also found that high Snail expression predicts more rapid tumor recurrence in women who have been treated for breast cancer. These observations suggest that Snail may represent a target for cancer therapy.
Among women, breast cancer is the most common cancer worldwide and is the leading cause of cancer mortality. Of the more than 5 million women currently living with a diagnosis of breast cancer, recurrence represents the most common cause of death from this disease. Remarkably, recurrences can appear up to 20 years following surgery, although most occur within the first two years. "Up to 40 percent of women thought to be cancer free following surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy still have tumor cells in their bodies in a dormant state. As such, approaches to prevent cancer recurrence in these women would be broadly applicable," says senior author Lewis A. Chodosh, MD, PhD, Vice Chair of the Department of Cancer Biology and Director of Cancer Genetics at the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute at Penn. The researchers published their findings in the September 2005 issue of Cancer Cell.
Karen Kreeger | EurekAlert!
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