Breast Cancer Cells Have Unlikely Allies

Researchers find surrounding cells spur growth of drug-resistant tumor cells

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TUESDAY, July 20, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Researchers have discovered that breast cancer cells depend on non-cancerous "support cells" to spur their growth, and the finding could lead to an overhaul in chemotherapy treatment for the disease.

Chemotherapy is designed to kill malignant cells in tumors while leaving the tissue surrounding the tumors unharmed.

But scientists at the Dana-Farber Cancer Center at Harvard University have identified genes in non-cancerous cells that were causing cancer cells to mutate into new forms resistant to chemotherapy.

The findings suggest that aiming chemotherapy at both cancer cells and the genetically normal cellular environment surrounding them might improve the success of breast cancer treatment.

The study appears in the July 20 issue of Cancer Cell.

More information

The National Cancer Institute has more about chemotherapy.

SOURCES: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, news release, July 19, 2004

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