Surgery That Removes All Traces of Breast Cancer Stimulates Protective Anticancer Immune Response, Mouse Study Suggests

Surgery That Removes All Traces of Breast Cancer Stimulates Protective Anticancer Immune Response, Mouse Study Suggests
Breast cancer surgery with negative or clear margins, which leaves no signs of cancer behind, stimulates a protective anticancer immune response that reduces the risk of cancer spread to other regions in the body, a mouse study suggests. Researchers are now studying if the molecular culprits involved in this response in animal models also have a parallel in women with breast cancer. The study, “Primary tumor-induced immunity eradicates disseminated tumor cells in syngeneic mouse model,” was published in the journal Nature Communications. After breast cancer surgery, a pathologist uses a microscope to analyze the tissue removed and look for cancer cells at the margins. If no cancer cells are seen at the outer edge of the tissue, the pathologist declares that it has negative or clear margins. If there are still cancer cells in the edges — considered to have positive margins — it means that some cancer cells may have been left. In this case, usually a surgeon will go back and perform a re-excision, and remove more tissue. This new study, led by researchers at Georgia Cancer Center in Augusta University, supports the idea that when a breast tumor is removed with clear margins, a patient is less likely to develop metastasis later — that is, to see the cancer spread to other parts of the body. Evidence indicates that solid tumors send out tumor cells early and continuously, but most of these cells — about 90% — die before establishing themselves elsewhere in the body. However, a few of these surviving cells can settle at remote places such as the bone marrow, lung, or liver, and give rise to a second tumor. This can happen following surgery, chemotherapy, and/or immunotherapy, or after a patient is in remission. Many times, metastasis beco
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