Have Dense Breasts? They May Be Drivers for Cancer

Researchers are closer than ever to figuring out why women with dense breast tissue may be more prone to developing breast cancer.

According to Medical News Today, "scientists at the University of Manchester in the UK think that a key biological mechanism may explain for the first time why women with dense breast tissue have an increased risk of developing breast cancer."

Prof. Michael Lisanti, from the University of Manchester worked on the study, which looked at targeting not cells but the fibrotic connective tissue that may develop first, before a woman develops cancer. 
He explains, "We know that high breast density can greatly increase a woman's breast cancer risk as well as other factors such as aging, family history and presence of mutations in genes such as BRCA 1 and BRCA 2.

  What no one has fully appreciated before are the underpinning mechanisms at play," Lisanti adds. "Using a bioinformatics approach, we have identified the relevant signaling pathways that make dense breast tissue more favorable for tumor formation."
Scientists working with what's called a cell communication network found that this network "exhibited more activity in fibroblasts from high-density breast tissue than in lower-density breast tissue."
Cells are instructed by this network to release chemicals that cause inflammation, which can encourage the formation of tumors.
In other words, dense breast tissue may hold the "right soil" for "seeds" that grow future malignancies.  
So the team thinks that using drugs to target this network and block it from communicating with cells could provide a potential treatment for women with breast cancer. This theory is supported by the researchers' discovery that the molecular signature of the fibroblasts from high-density breast tissue matches the signature of fibroblasts from breast tumors.
An additional problem for women with dense tissue breasts is that very often the tools of prevention, like mammograms and ultrasounds, fail to pick up abnormalities because these white spots are often hidden in the thready white of dense breasts on x-ray.  


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