Cancer

Cancer cells' plasticity makes them harder to stop

When metastatic cancer cells need to avoid a threat, they simply reprogram themselves. Rice University scientists are beginning to get a handle on how they survive hostile environments.

Cancer

Mechanism explains breast cancer cell plasticity

One of the main obstacles to successfully treating breast cancer is the cells' ability to change in ways that make them resistant to treatment. Understanding the cellular mechanisms that mediate this cancer cell plasticity ...

Cancer

How do metastatic tumor cells grow in lymph nodes?

The spread of cancer to a new part of the body accounts for about 90 percent of cancer deaths. Cancer cells can spread from sites of origin to other parts of the body through blood vessels (blood-borne metastasis) or the ...

Medical research

Platelet 'decoys' outsmart both clots and cancer

Heart disease, stroke, sepsis, and cancer collectively cause the greatest number of deaths worldwide. They also have something else in common: all of them are associated with activated platelets, the cells that circulate ...

Health

Site of care may affect patients' access to palliative treatment

For patients at the end of life, palliative care can prolong survival and improve the quality of life for patients with a life-threatening illness and for their families. But studies have found that racial and ethnic minorities ...

Cancer

The role of immune cells in the formation of metastases

Tumor cells use a certain type of immune cell, so-called neutrophils, to enhance their ability to form metastases. Scientists from the University of Basel and the University Hospital of Basel have deciphered the mechanisms ...

Cancer

Breast cancer cells in mice tricked into turning into fat cells

As cancer cells respond to cues in their microenvironment, they can enter a highly plastic state in which they are susceptible to transdifferentiation into a different type of cell. Researchers at the University of Basel ...

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Metastatic breast cancer is a stage of breast cancer where the disease has spread to distant metastases. It is a complication of primary breast cancer, usually occurring several years after resection of the primary breast cancer. Metastatic breast cancer cells frequently differ from the preceding primary breast cancer in properties such as receptor status, have often developed resistance to several lines of previous treatment and acquired special properties that permit them metastasize to distant sites, making them especially dangerous. The prognosis is often poor, distant metastases are the cause of about 90% of deaths due to breast cancer.

Breast cancer primarily metastasizes to the bone, lungs, regional lymph nodes, liver and brain, with the most common site being the bone. Lymph node metastsasis into the sentinel node and few surrounding nodes is regarded as a treatable local event and not metastatic breast cancer, both when occurring at primary presentation or later.

Typical environmental barriers in a metastatic event include physical (a basement membrane), chemical (reactive oxygen species or ROS, hypoxia and low pH) and biological (immune surveillance, inhibitory cytokines and regulatory extra-cellular matrix (ECM) peptides) components. Organ-specific anatomic considerations also influence metastasis; these include blood-flow patterns from the primary tumor and the homing ability of cancer cells to certain tissues. The targeting by cancer cells of specific organs is probably regulated by chemo-attractant factors and adhesion molecules produced by the target organ, along with cell-surface receptors expressed by the tumor cells.

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