Breakthrough in breast cancer treatment gives hope to millions of women

Hope for women with breast cancer/Shutterstock Images

In 2020, about 2.3 million women were diagnosed with breast cancer worldwide and 685,000 died. Every 14 seconds, somewhere in the world, a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer.

Patients with the most common type of breast cancer—oestrogen receptor positive (ER+)—have a continued risk of their cancer recurring in another part of their body for many years, or even decades, after their original diagnosis and treatment

New research, published in Nature Cancer, brings new hope the risk of secondary tumours could be cut at the source before they develop.

Around 55,000 women in Britain are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, with 61,000 currently living with secondary breast cancer, according to Breast Cancer Now.

It occurs when the cancer spreads to other parts of the body, including the bones, brain, lungs or liver.

Researchers found rising levels of PDGF-C — a protein found in the lung that increases as the organ ages — makes it more likely for dormant cancer cells to reawaken.

They tested the leukaemia drug imatinib, which blocks cancer growth, on mice to see how it affected PDGF-C and tumour growth.

Mice were treated before and after the secondary tumours had developed, with growth in the lung significantly reduced for both groups.

Dr Simon Vincent, of Breast Cancer Now, which funded the research, said: “This exciting discovery brings us a step closer to understanding how we can stop the development of secondary breast cancer.

“It has the potential to benefit thousands of women living with this ‘time bomb’ in the future, ensuring fewer patients receive the devastating news the disease has spread.”

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