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Gene May Cause Some Breast Cancers to Metastasize

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A study found that a gene called metadherin (MTDH) may cause some breast cancers to spread to distant locations in the body (metastasize). MTDH also may cause some breast cancers to stop responding to chemotherapy.

Other research has found that one or more genes are associated with a poor prognosis for some breast cancers. MTDH is one of these genes. The study reviewed here looked at how some of these genes acted in human breast cancer tissue that was put into mice. Breast cancer tissue with an active MTDH gene spread to distant locations (metastasized) seven times more than breast cancers with an inactive MTDH gene. The other genes looked at in this study didn't seem to affect breast cancer spread.

It's thought that the MTDH gene affects about 30% to 40% of all breast cancers. Researchers aren't sure how an active MTDH gene influences the spread of breast cancer or chemotherapy resistance.

While encouraging, these results are early results. The research was done on human tissue implanted in mice. More research is needed to understand how the MTDH gene affects breast cancer. Still, this research can offer clues to how breast cancer spreads and responds to treatment. In the future, researchers may discover therapies that target and block the MTDH gene, which may help treat breast cancer.

Stay tuned to Breastcancer.org for the latest news on research that may lead to better ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat breast cancer.

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