When tumors fuse with blood vessels, clumps of breast cancer cells can spread | Science News

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When tumors fuse with blood vessels, clumps of breast cancer cells can spread

Tests with fake vessels suggest this is an early step in metastasis

By
11:42am, December 8, 2017
breast cancer cells

BREAKING AWAY  Breast cancer cells (shown growing in a lab dish) move through the body in clusters. New research may shed light on how the clusters enter the bloodstream.

PHILADELPHIA — If you want to beat them, join them. Some breast cancer tumors may follow that strategy to spread through the body.

Breast cancer tumors can fuse with blood vessel cells, allowing clumps of cancer cells to break away from the main tumor and ride the bloodstream to other locations in the body, suggests preliminary research. Cell biologist Vanesa Silvestri of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine presented the early work December 4 at the American Society for Cell Biology/European Molecular Biology Organization meeting.

Previous research has shown that cancer cells traveling in clusters have a better chance of spreading than loners do (SN: 1/10/15, p. 9). But how clusters of cells get into the bloodstream in the first place has been a mystery, in part because scientists couldn’t easily see inside tumors to find out.

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