There are high chances of breast cancer to recur even after treatment. It suggests that hormone therapy for breast cancer may not always uproot cancer cells. The new research studies the link between hormone therapy and cancer cells.
The research results are published in journal Nature Communications and are available to view online.
Is hormone therapy for breast cancer an effective plan?
Hormone therapy is one of the most effective treatments for cancer. It saves the life of a cancer patient by killing the cancer cells especially the breast cancer cells. The researchers believe that drugs may flip the hormone therapy to an inactive state for some time. This research is a collaborative study of Imperial College London, United Kingdom, University of Milan, Italy, and Yonsei University College of Medicine, South Korea.
There were more than 50,000 human breast cancer cells in this study. The study design overlooks the effect of adjuvant endocrine therapy on these single cells. Endocrine therapy is a type of hormone therapy for breast cancer.
The research results suggest that drugs can kill some cells but they deactivate many others to a sleeper state. That is why cancer is much likely to recur after some time. Only if the research can find the secret behind this mechanism, there will be a permanent treatment of breast cancer without recurrence.
Detailed study may reveal the mystery of cancer cells inactivation
As a part of treating breast cancers, doctors often recommend hormone therapy. It particularly helps in estrogen receptor-positive breast cancers. These types of cancer cells replicate and spread through estrogen linked mechanism. Approximately two-thirds of all breast cancer cases are estrogen linked.
When a hormone therapy starts, its target is to remove the tumor through surgery. This type of treatment works for a majority of people but not all. Many people may go into a relapse phase. This stage is metastasis and it is extremely difficult to treat.
This particular study finds that hormone therapy can kill cancer cells but some of these cells go to a dormant state. This is a temporary phase and there is a high possibility that these cancer cells will start replicating new tumor cells.
Considering these details, these inactive cells also show resistant to cancer medicines. However, this is merely a hypothesis and more detailed research can confirm it.
The results also assume that these inactive cancer cells may travel to any part of the body and start growing. In this case, it may cause secondary cancers too. However, factors that contribute to the re-activation of these sleeper cells are still unknown.
Considering these facts, this current research only seems preliminary. The researchers from this experiment emphasize the efficacy of hormone therapy for breast cancer treatment but they are not sure if this is 100% successful. To understand what plays a role here, they advise conducting more experiments.
This study underlines a key issue in breast cancer treatment and it also advises to explore new ways to tackle these resting cancer cells. These cells can re-activate even after years of successful treatment. Finding a permanent treatment will save the lives of many women.