Secondary lesions in breast cancer patients occur at varying rates—some individuals remain in a latent asymptomatic state without metastases longer than others.
Researchers, who publishing findings online Jan. 22 in Nature Cell Biology, examined the impact of genetic variables in spreading metastatic lesions. The team confirmed estrogen-positive (ER+) tumors that do not express the MSK1 kinase are correlated with earlier relapse. Metastases in patients with this molecule will develop later.
"We are interested in understanding the mechanisms underlying metastasis and the time component of this process. Until now, little was known in preclinical models about the mechanisms that allow breast cancer cells to leave the latent state and even less is known in patients," wrote corresponding author Roger Gomis, with the Growth Control and Cancer Metastasis Lab in Institute for Research in Biomedicine in Barcelona.
The research team hopes such work will improve identification of individuals at a high risk for relapse. The findings could also improve treatment by potentially mimicking the function of the MSK1 to keep metastatic lesions in an asymptomatic state for as long as possible.