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Study shows breast cancer cells can control where they spread

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Scientists have discovered a troubling new characteristic of breast cancer that may make it more life-threatening. 

Researchers at Mount Sinai in New York say the disease can grow after the infected tumor is removed. However, it doesn’t always do it right away. The delay is controlled by a process that puts cells to sleep known as dormancy. 

But scientists now know that breast cancer cells can manipulate when and where they re-emerge up to years later. The new information raises the question if better treatment methods are needed to target the sleeping cells. 

“The existence of highly invasive but not proliferative cells raises the question on whether treating cancers with chemotherapy drugs that target proliferative cells will eliminate the dormant and very invasive cancer cells” study author, Jose Javier Bravo-Cordero said in a statement to News 8. “Our study suggests that more selective therapeutic strategies combining treatments against both dividing cells and invasive dormant cells may be necessary to prevent metastatic disease.”

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows an estimated 265,000 new cases of breast cancer are reported by women each year. Over 42,000 will die of the disease.