University of Nottingham logo, ribbonResearchers at the University of Nottingham conducted a study in a bid to understand the cell behaviour in breast cancer to identify proper operations and treatments for the cancer patients. So this comes as good news for cancer patients, as so far the researchers have been successful in understanding the major way in which Cancer invades the afflicted person’s body.

Cancer is a disease known for spreading to different parts of the body. However, in breast cancer, this is the very reason for death. Spreading of cancer cells from one part to the other is known as metastasis, and happens via blood and lymphatic vessels which are the major routes for cancer cells to spread. This is known as vascular invasion.

With this finding, not only new treatments can be invented but also the old ones can be modified by improving the diagnosis and treatment in the longer run and also identifying ‘therapeutic targets’.

Breast cancer is the cancer where in a prognosis is possible even in the early stages of the disease where the patients have small breast tumours, yet almost 15 to 20 percent of them die from metastasis where the disease takes over them.

Rabab Mohammad, a research student from the team of researchers at Nottingham explained that there are particular regulators of the blood and lymphatic vessels’ growth which can determine a subset of tumours which have the higher chances of recurring or spreading to other parts.

Advancements in immunohistochemical techniques in the past made possible the identification and distinguishing between the blood vessels and lymphatics. This has in turn helped the team understanding the critical importance of assessing the level of invasion by the cancer in the blood and lymph vessels in the earliest stage of detection itself.

However presently, the clinical approaches to calculate the amount of vascular invasion are not fool-proof and are inaccurate in detecting lesions, most of the time. The approach also fails in telling between the blood and lymph vessels.

Yet, by successfully understanding the cell behaviour, Dr Stewart Martin, Professor Ian Ellis and their colleagues at University of Nottingham analysed tumour sections from 177 patients and found that 96 per cent of vascular invasion in primary invasive breast cancer is principally of the lymph vessels. This has been described as a very significant and major finding and indeed it is as a better understanding will lead discovery of better treatments.

Most importantly, the discovery’s success rate can be determined only by verifying it in more than thousands of women in the early stage of breast cancer. Researchers are on their way to achieving this as well as they are already working on the study with the help of funding from Cancer Research UK, who also the study on Vascular Invasion. Further study will help them investigate and understand Lymphatic Vascular invasion, for an improved prognosis in indicating the disease in the early stage of breast cancer.

It is important that this finding is verified in a larger cohort of patients. The researchers are now working to accomplish this, through funding recently obtained from Cancer Research UK, using specimens from more than a thousand women with early stage breast cancer. Results from this study will also allow them to determine whether Lymphatic Vascular Invasion can be incorporated into an improved prognostic index for early stage breast cancer.

Industrial and academic groups from all over UK and abroad in collaboration are conducting the study which is being combined with gene expression studies, with bioinformatic approaches and using in vitro (cells in culture) models to determine novel therapeutic targets.