Health Watch — Breast Cancer: Genetic Clues

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications  and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.


This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about breast cancer, in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. While breast cancer is often highly treatable, there are cases where the cancer spreads and recurs. Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have been looking at cancer cells to learn how this happens.

Last year, these researchers found that when there are multiple copies of a particular gene, this gene starts a process that leads to tissue membranes breaking down. That allows cancer cells to escape into the bloodstream and other tissues, so the cancer spreads. Dr. Jonathan Uhr a UT Southwestern cancer researcher, says these extra gene copies are often found in cells with another known cancer gene. This knowledge may lead to ways to determine which patients are more likely to have recurring or spreading cancer, as well as targets for cancer treatment.

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October 2007

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