A protein which helps aggressive breast tumors spread the disease through the body using non-cancerous cells has been identified by researchers.
Cells are recruited to invade tissues neighboring tumors by the Wnt7a protein, a new study suggests, eventually leading it into the bloodstream. Scientists have known these cells, called fibroblasts, can help spread cancer, but had not previously understood why they assisted the process. It was discovered that women with higher levels of Wnt7a were at greater risk of developing secondary disease and had a lower chance of survival.
Research showed that women whose breast cancers secreted a greater amount of Wnt7a were much more likely to see their disease spread to other parts of the body, at which point it unfortunately becomes incurable.