Saturday, April 13, 2013
Researchers uncover 'fingerprint' of breast cancers that spread to the brain
That's the headline of an article posted on the Cancer Research UK website. It’s the kind of a headline that made me think of so many questions that I had to read the article.
The article itself reports that “Breast cancer cells that break off from tumours have a biological 'fingerprint' that could allow doctors to spot women whose disease is likely to spread to the brain, according to US research.”
I had to reread this first sentence of the article several times, because it seemed so punitive: “Breast cancer cells that break off from tumours have a biological 'fingerprint' that could allow doctors to spot women whose disease is likely to spread to the brain, according to US research.”
I never knew that breast cancer cells can migrate and start causing brain cancer. So some poor woman first gets the news that, “Sorry, you have breast cancer.” And then, she gets the double whammy of “and, by the way, you breast cancer has morphed into brain cancer.”
Of course, the problems don’t stop there. According the abstract of the original research, from Sciencemag.com, “Brain metastatic breast cancer (BMBC) is uniformly fatal and increasing in frequency. Despite its devastating outcome, mechanisms causing BMBC remain largely unknown.”
The words “uniformly fatal” and “increasing in frequency” sound pretty scary to me alone, let alone used together in the same sentence.
Nonetheless, these plucky researchers see this as good news announcing that “This could lead to better ways of treating women with the disease, and even to new drugs to stop it spreading.”
Here’s a link the Cancer Research UK website article: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-info/news/archive/cancernews/2013-04-10-Researchers-uncover-fingerprint-of-breast-cancers-that-spread-to-the-brain
And here’s the link to the original research abstract entitled The Identification and Characterization of Breast Cancer CTCs Competent for Brain Metastasis: http://stm.sciencemag.org/content/5/180/180ra48