Researchers have just found the reason why breast cancer patients with dense breasts have an elevated risk of developing aggressive tumors that can spread.
Women with dense breasts are at a higher risk of breast cancer due to the presence of collagen in excess. Collagen is a structural protein.
"We have shown how increased collagen in the breasts could increase the chances of breast tumors spreading and becoming more invasive," said Gregory D Longmore, MD, professor of medicine. "It doesn't explain why women with dense breasts get cancer in the first place. But once they do, the pathway that we describe is relevant in causing their cancers to be more aggressive and more likely to spread," he stated.
"We had no idea DDR2 would do this. The functions of DDR2 are not well understood, and it has not been implicated in cancer — and certainly not in breast cancer — until now," said Longmore.