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Metastatic Breast Cancer Research
Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC) is an advanced stage (stage IV) of breast cancer where tumor cells have spread to other parts of the body, such as bones, liver, lungs, or brain. Most breast cancer deaths are a result of metastasis.
In the 1970s, only 10% of women survived five years after diagnosis of MBC. Today, because of research and the discovery of new and more-effective treatments, this has increased to an average of 25%.
While MBC is treatable, it is not curable. This is, in part, because we do not know what causes cancer cells to spread. Komen is dedicated to understanding why metastasis occurs and how to stop it and has invested nearly half of new research funding in 2017 in MBC research.
In its 35-year history, Komen has invested $180 million in over 450 research grants and more than 40 clinical trials focused on MBC.
What we’re investigating:
- Identifying the genes and processes that cause breast cancer calls to metastasize
- Developing and testing new therapies to both prevent and treat MBC
- Discovering new methods for predicting or detecting metastasis using urine or blood tests or body scans
What we’ve learned from Komen-funded research:
- Tilmanocept (Lymphoseek), a new FDA-approved imaging method, can be used to more effectively detect whether breast cancer has spread to the lymph nodes
- A molecule that reduces the stiffness and density of breast tissue, by blocking the formation of collagen fibers, may be used to prevent tumor cells from invading and metastasizing to other tissues
- The presence of certain types of circulating tumor cells may be used as a biomarker to predict who is at high risk for metastasis and may serve as a drug target to prevent MBC
In addition to funding research, Komen is a founding member of the Metastatic Breast Cancer Alliance, a group of more than 30 organizations working to unify efforts to improve the lives and outcomes for those living with MBC.
Read how one Komen-funded researcher’s personal experience with breast cancer is shaping his fight against MBC in the lab.