Stopping Breast Cancer in its Tracks

Chemical attraction behind spread of malignancies could be drug target

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MONDAY, Nov. 15, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- A chemical attraction explains why HER2-positive breast cancer often invades the lungs, liver and bone, say researchers at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

They found that a chemical attraction between signals on HER2-positive breast cancer cells and signals on surfaces of these organs explains why this form of breast cancer is so invasive. The findings may help scientists find ways to prevent this deadly spread.

Most of the women who die from HER2-positive breast cancer have secondary tumors in their bones, liver and lungs.

"It has always been a puzzle as to why, when HER2-positive cancer cells circulate throughout the body looking for a new home, they preferentially travel to these organs," study author Mien-Chie Hung, chair of the department of molecular and cellular oncology, said in a prepared statement.

"We now have explained it biochemically, and hope that this leads to strategies that prevent such metastasis," Hung said.

The study appears in the November issue of Cancer Cell.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about breast cancer.

SOURCE: M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, news release, Nov. 15, 2004

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