Chemotherapy is a nonspecific way of killing off cancer cells with drugs that is often accompanied by many toxic side effects. About 70 percent of breast cancer patients are diagnosed with a tumor containing estrogen receptors (ER), which requires treatment with hormones but not necessarily chemotherapy. Whether a patient needs chemotherapy depends on the aggressiveness of the tumor, which is currently determined by an expensive laboratory test that requires tissue biopsy and time to ship and run the test.
Defining in advance whether breast cancer might invade other organs of the body (a process called metastasis) will help guide treatment options (i.e., conservative versus aggressive treatments). A group of researchers has recently developed a new cellular (in vitro) and computational model that could help predict the risk of metastasis for patients affected by breast cancer.
Breast cancer is characterized by progressive modifications of the microenvironment of mammary tissue. Being able to monitor these tissue changes can be critical to improving clinicians’ diagnoses and designing early intervention strategies.