XRAYS - Making Sense of Cancer Headlines

FORCE’s eXamining the Relevance of Articles for Young Survivors (XRAYS) program is a reliable resource for breast cancer research-related news and information. XRAYS reviews new breast cancer research, provides plain-language summaries, and rates how the media covered the topic. XRAYS is funded by the CDC.

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Basic Science

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STUDY: Metastasis in mice is affected by wound healing and inflammation

This study in mice looked at how wound healing after surgery affects metastasis. Researchers found that wound healing caused changes in the mouse immune system that allowed some cancer cells to grow, but that treatment with a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) reduced inflammation and frequency of metastases. While this research is promising, it remains to be seen if similar effects occur in humans. (5/17/18)

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STUDY: Is asparagus linked to breast cancer metastasis?

A new study published in the journal Nature shows that asparagine, a protein building block that takes its name from asparagus, promotes the spread of breast cancer in mice. The study by cancer experts from Britain, Canada and the U.S. investigated whether limiting the levels of asparagine in mice could reduce tumor metastasis. (3/2/18)

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STUDY: Can chemotherapy before surgery fuel breast cancer metastasis?

Some breast cancer patients are given neoadjuvant (before surgery) chemotherapy. However, some recent studies have raised concerns that neoadjuvant treatment might actually trigger cancer spread in certain situations. In the current study, researchers used mouse models and human breast cancers to explore this possibility. (10/10/17)

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STUDY: Study uses mice and brains from deceased Alzheimer’s patients to assess BRCA1 involvement

Researchers noted reduced levels of BRCA1 protein in the brains of mice and deceased Alzheimer's patients. While this study is interesting early work on the biology of Alzheimer's disease, the focus was primarily Alzheimer's disease, rather than the effect of BRCA1 mutations on Alzheimer's. Therefore, this study's observation may be something that is seen in Alzheimer's patients, but does not necessarily cause the disease. No studies suggest that BRCA1 mutation carriers are at increased risk for Alzheimer's disease. (12/22/2015)

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STUDY: Do antioxidants encourage the spread of cancer cells?

Scientists do not yet know why some cancers spread to other parts of the body (a process called metastasis). A study in mice suggested that high doses of some antioxidants (chemicals that can protect cells from damage) might actually make it easier for cancer cells to spread. (12/01/2015)

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