To mark Secondary Breast Cancer Awareness Day, we’re hearing why research into this devastating disease is more crucial than ever, and highlighting the exciting work taking place in labs across the UK and Ireland to stop it from taking lives.
At Breast Cancer Now we are determined to stop people dying from breast cancer, and one of the most important ways to do this is to find ways to stop it spreading. When breast cancer cells break away from the original tumour and form tumours in other parts of the body it is known as secondary, or metastatic, breast cancer. Whilst there are treatments which can help to control secondary breast cancer, sometimes for a number of years, once breast cancer has spread it becomes incurable.
Every year 11,500 women and 350 men die as a result of breast cancer, with almost all of those people having seen their breast cancer spread to other parts of the body. It has been estimated that around 35,000 women in the UK are currently living with secondary breast cancer, and we want to make sure that people in their situation have the best chance of survival possible.
We need to find out why and how breast cancer spreads so we can find ways to stop it from happening, and teams of researchers at Breast Cancer Now are rising to that challenge. We are asking them the question ‘how do we stop people dying of secondary breast cancer?’, and here are just some of the ways they are answering it…
Boosting our bodies’ defences
Usually the first line of defence when we are unwell is our immune system. Its job is to search out threats that can harm our body, and destroy them. However, cancer often has clever ways to avoid the immune system or hide from it, so our bodies’ own defences are not able to destroy it.
In some places in our body the immune system is intentionally dialled down. This is useful in delicate places where an overactive immune system could cause damage, and one of these places is the lymph nodes in the armpits – one of the first places breast cancer can spread to. Dr Anne Fletcher is researching the cells that are responsible for this dialling down of the immune system, finding out how they work, and how we could get them to turn the immune system …
Source:: The Huffington Post – UK Lifestyle