Hormone therapy for breast cancer only putting some cells to ‘sleep’

September 3, 2019 (Medical News Today) 

Recent studies have gone deeper into understanding why breast cancer may reoccur in some patients after treatment.

A study appearing in the journal Nature Communications, found that adjuvant endocrine therapy (a form of hormone therapy) would kill most cancerous cells and switch the others into a dormant state.

The research was completed by Luca Magnani, a principal research fellow in the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College London, along with other researchers from academic institutions around the world and studied around 50,000 single cells of human breast cancer.

The study found that adjuvant hormone therapy was largely successful in killing the cancer cells exposed to it, but that some of these cells would survive and become dormant. Cells that survive are on their way to becoming resistant to the cancer drugs altogether.

Building upon that, these dormant cells are more likely to move around the body, and if these cells become active again, they may cause cancer in a different part of the body.

According to Magnani and other co-authors of the study, further research must be done in order to understand the secrets of these dormant cells and find a way to permanently prevent cancer from coming back.

Learn more about this study here.