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Improving understanding of cell behavior in breast cancer
Date:6/18/2008

The invasion and spread of cancer cells to other parts of the body, known as metastasis, is a principal cause of death in patients diagnosed with breast cancer. Although patients with early stage, small, breast tumours have an excellent short term prognosis, more than 15 to 20 per cent of them will eventually develop distant metastases, and die from the disease. Vascular invasion through lymphatic and blood vessels is the major route for cancer spreading to regional lymph nodes and to the rest of the body.

Dr Stewart Martin, Professor Ian Ellis and their colleagues at The University of Nottingham, and worldwide, are combining a number of approaches in a dynamic effort to improve our understanding of cell behaviour in breast cancer. Discovering how these cells operate is vital in improving diagnosis and treatment for the cancer patient in the longer term, and in identifying therapeutic targets. Already the results of their work have been excellent with findings in relation to the spread of cancer through the lymphatic vessels prompting a much larger study funded by Cancer Research UK.

A research student within the Nottingham team, Rabab Mohammed, showed recently that specific factors that regulate the growth of blood and lymphatic vessels can identify a subset of tumours which have a high probability of recurring or spreading.

The team subsequently identified the crucial importance of assessing both the level of blood and lymph vessel invasion by cancer cells at the earliest stages of detection. It has, until recently, been very difficult to distinguish between the two. With advances in immunohistochemical techniques, blood vessels can today be reliably identified and differentiated from lymphatics. Currently clinical approaches for the assessment of vascular invasion are insufficiently robust and can result in a failure to detect some lesions accurately, or fail to differentiate adequately between blood and lymph vessels. The Notti
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Contact: Ian Ellis
ian.ellis@nottingham.ac.uk
44-011-596-91169
University of Nottingham
Source:Eurekalert

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