The ability of cancer cells to spread (metastasize) from their original location to other parts of the body is one of the puzzles of all types of cancer. A study was done in mice. The study found that a mouse gene called SATB1 signals other genes that then cause cancer cells to spread.
The SATB1 gene's normal role is helping the mouse immune system create T cells, a special kind of cell that fights infection. But when the SATB1 gene becomes active in mouse breast cancer cells, it tells many other genes to become active. The activity of these other genes then causes the cancer cells to spread to other parts of the body.
Because this study was done in mice, the results won't affect how breast cancer is treated for many years. Much more research is needed before we know if these results apply to people as well as mice. Still, looking at how specific genes affect cancer cells mice can give doctors new ideas for treatments to test.
Stay tuned to breastcancer.org for the latest updates on research that some day may lead to more effective ways to treat advanced breast cancer.