Scientists have found a pattern of genetic ‘switches’ - chemical marks that turn genes on or off - that are linked to breast cancer’s spread to the brain, according to research presented at the National Cancer Research Institute Cancer Conference (NCRI) in Liverpool today (Wednesday 5 November).
Katherine Woods, Research Communications Manager at Breast Cancer Campaign, said:
“Once breast cancer spreads throughout the body it becomes incurable, and it is the main cause of the 12,000 deaths from the disease in the UK each year.
“The spread of secondary breast tumours to the brain in particular can have a major impact on a patient’s quality of life, causing debilitating problems with movement, speech, and memory. It is therefore critically important that we find ways to predict, and ultimately prevent, the spread of breast cancer to the brain.
“This study moves us a step closer to reaching this goal, by identifying epigenetic changes that could be involved in this process. Recent research funded by Breast Cancer Campaign has shown that these gene ‘switches’ could also be used to predict the development of breast cancer many years in advance, and we look forward to further results in this exciting area in the future.”