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Fighting the spread of breast cancer

New research aimed at halting the spread of breast cancer is progressing thanks to support from The Hospital Research Foundation through the Home Lottery.

Dr Sarah Boyle, from Adelaide’s Centre for Cancer Biology, is investigating how physical stresses in the body can cause cancer cells to hijack healthy cells, making the disease progress more rapidly.

“The goal of my research is to understand how and why physical stress experienced by breast cancer can lead to tumour growth, and ultimately find ways which we can slow, stop or even reverse the effects as a new way of treating breast cancer,” Dr Boyle said.

Currently most research into this area is conducted via a two-dimensional analysis, whereas Dr Boyle’s research is using a three-dimensional system to discover how to potentially stop the effects of physical stress in women with breast cancer.

“The three-dimensional system will allow us to keep tumour fragments alive outside of the body. We will treat these fragments before (prevention) and after (therapy) stress to see if we can prevent or reverse the effects of cancer growth.

“This research will give us new knowledge on whether physical forces are important for breast cancer growth, how cells react to the physical forces and how we can potentially counteract the effects of the forces.”

If Dr Boyle’s research is successful, it could potentially save the lives of many women.

“We can then build on this knowledge for the development of new therapies that can halt the effects of physical stress in breast and potentially other cancers like skin cancer.”