Why breast cancer spreads
Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have discovered a key way that breast cancer cells grow and spread throughout the body. It has to do with how breast cancer cells and breast cancer tissue react with one another.
Working with mouse models, the researchers found that a protein that sits on the surface of breast cancer cells, called DDR2, actually binds itself to collagen that is naturally present in breast tissue. Once the protein has bound itself to the collagen, it activates a pathway that encourages breast cancer tumors to spread and grow.
The new finding sheds some light on why women with dense breasts – that is, women who have a higher concentration of collagen in their breast tissue – seem to develop more aggressive cases of breast cancer.